Team SCA is the first all-female team to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race around the world in a decade. In the 41-year history of this one of the most challenging races in the world, women's crews have competed on only four occasions. And none of these crews have had the kind of sponsor and training to make them contenders for victory, on equal terms with men.
The first race from Alicante to Cape Town was completed with 13 girls led by skipper Sam Davis, who overtook the Spaniards from MAPFRE in the last 10 miles. The men were so upset to lose «to the weaker sex»that they kicked two crew members out of the team - navigator Niko Lunwen and Michel Desjuayo.
Lunwena will be replaced by Jean-Luc Nella, and Desjuayo will be replaced by Rob Greenhal, ironically Libby Greenhal's older brother, Team SCA navigator, largely thanks to whose decisions the women's team beat MAPFRE.
«He called to ask what I thought. He helped me a lot when I decided to join Team SCA, so it was great that now I can do the same for him," said Libby. - After we talked, I wrote him the same message he sent me then: «Just do it!»
Family ties generally play a big role in Team SCA. Among the team members are two Mettro sisters: Justine is aboard the pink VOR 65 monotype, Elodie Jane is still on shore. She was not selected to participate in Leg 1, so Elodie Jane was waiting for her sister to arrive at Team SCA headquarters in Cape Town, watching the team's actions from the monitor screen. Here's the camera review hit Justine: waiting for the wind, the girl scraped the mast with her nails.
«She scratches the mast to cause a magical gust of wind," explained Elodie Jane. - I don't know if it really works, but it's true that they've had a few tough nights with a lot of cloudiness, judging by the reports I'm getting from Juju. This is just the first phase, I hope we'll be a little luckier by the next race».
Elodie Jane dreamed that Team SCA would arrive in Cape Town on November 7th - her birthday - and the sisters would be able to celebrate it together. Well, they did it: 26 days, 23 hours, 37 minutes and 49 seconds after the start in Alicante, the sisters embraced 7,000 miles from a Spanish town on the South African coast.
«It feels like we've broken the stereotype or surpassed expectations, and this is just the beginning»," said Stacey Jackson after the finish.
Indeed, Team SCA members are much less experienced than other, «traditional» men's teams. Only two of the fourteen had previously participated in the Volvo Ocean Race.
«The equator crossing ceremony highlighted the difference in experience we have compared to other teams," says Team SCA coach Brad Jackson. - Only four of the 12 sailing crew members have ever crossed it before».
The other eight had an initiation ceremony aboard the VOR 65. And as the maiden team, it included beauty treatments in the form of rotten guts masks made of flying fish and tasks such as displaying a commercial for daily pads. The latter was most likely the merit of the general sponsor, the manufacturer of hygiene products.
When the Swedish company SCA decided to assemble an all-female team to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race, it was assumed that 80% of its buyers worldwide are of the fair sex. It was a good time for this decision: the organizers of the race changed the rules allowing the all-female crew to bring on board three additional people - the only relaxation the ladies got in the race.
«Three pairs of extra hands will certainly help," said Team SCA Skipper Sam Davis before the race, "but when the time comes to set heavy sails, we'll still be a little slower than the guys. I think our biggest advantage will be the three extra brains, and the female brains».
Another advantage of her team she called her performance, because participation in the regatta was preceded by 18 months of training side by side with each other.
Team SCA Executive Director Jan Johansson is never tired of repeating that this is the only well prepared and equipped women's team that has ever participated in the Volvo Ocean Race. And she has a real chance to win.