Equal footing for Competitive All-female Rolex Fastnet Campaign on Southern Child

By April 26, 2013Racing News, Southern Child
Girls in Heineken Crew xx

Lucy Reynolds, owner of Performance Yacht Charter will be taking part in the Rolex Fastnet Race aboard her race equipped First 40, Southern Child with an all-female crew this summer.

“It’s not about being an all-female crew, gender doesn’t come into it,” explains 25 year-old Lucy Reynolds. “Our goal is to do well by finishing in the top 25% of the fleet; to beat Northern Child (The Swan 51 she also owns with husband, Christian) and to finish in a respectable position in the race. We’ll provide the tools and structure to give female crew a chance at competing on an equal footing in this testing offshore race, “ says Lucy.

The 600 nm race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, is one of the world’s classic offshore races – tough, challenging and most of all, exhilarating and this biennial edition will be the largest ever with over 350 yachts competing.

“The loads on Southern Child are much more manageable than on the Swan, it’s a fast, performance boat,” says Lucy. She’s the right kind of boat for an all-female campaign in this race. A First 40 won the Rolex Sydney-Hobart last year and if we can get some good training in, the boat (and crew) has the potential to achieve our goal of being in the top quarter.”

With five Transatlantic crossings under her belt, two Rolex Fastnet’s (’09 and ’11), two RORC Caribbean 600s and a Rolex Middle Sea Race, her offshore experience and professionalism as a skipper speak for itself.

“It would be great to think that we could engage a new generation of women to break into competitive, crewed offshore racing,” added Reynolds. “A competitive female team in this race should be the norm, not something unusual. It’s not just enabling female sailors to go and do it, but to do it well. Two years ago in the RORC Caribbean 600 race we had a lot more women on the boat than we did men and the number of women coming into sailing is increasing, so are their ambitions. Most don’t just want to take part in easy races or regattas, they actually want to go offshore.

“Inspired by one of our regular crew who decided after hearing in the 2009 Fastnet prizegiving that the all-female crew prize couldn’t be awarded as the team were still racing”. The crew will consist of 12 females, including Lucy as Skipper and a professional First Mate, plus the 10 crew. It’s not about trying to get a special prize, we are trying to race against everybody as an even match. On an even playing field.”

Portsmouth-based Lucy’s boating experience typically stems from her dinghy sailing days when she was 8 years old and racing a Topper. She progressed to a Laser and 29er and was on the competitive youth circuit but found herself travelling up and down the country most weekends and not having time for her other sporting passions, hockey and netball. She pulled back from the youth programmes to take part in club sailing out of Locks Sailing Club in Langstone Harbour, Hampshire.

“It’s a tiny club, about 200 members but it is one of the oldest, founded in 1907. There are 30 boats out on the start line every weekend so it’s a very active club, exclaims Lucy.

There’s no doubting that Lucy Reynolds is passionate about her racing and in particular putting together this all-female campaign. Having recently completed a Transatlantic crossing with charter crew, Christian and Lucy realised that had 3 hours to get to the start line of their local club to go dinghy sailing for the afternoon!

“It’s lovely to get back in a dinghy. Dinghy sailing and yacht sailing are so different. Southern Child is a big dinghy compared to Northern Child. Christian has a Musto Skiff and I sail with his best friend in an RS400.”

For the Rolex Fastnet all-female campaign, we will take crews of completely mixed experience, because not everyone needs to be rock star sailor and equally that’s why we have the training weekends. Everybody can gain the necessary experience on the boat. We are running one training weekend and two cross Channel races.

If you are up for the challenge and interested in racing with the all-female team on Southern Child, contact: Lucy Reynolds, Performance Yacht Charter: lucy@performanceyachtcharter.com.