Scores of crews from all over the continent will participate in The Dr Irena Eris ORC European Championship Gdańsk 2017, which will start on 24th July. Both Polish and foreign teams are dominated by men, but three women’s teams will be competing, too.
There will be two women teams from Germany on the yachts “Tutima” and “Hotquito” and the Polish crew Shekle on “Oiler.pl”. Most of these competitors has a lot of racing experience, ensuring that their teams have a spirit of understanding and cooperation. Everyone also has her recipe for success and says that competing alongside men doesn’t daunt her.
– In ‘normal’ conditions there is not really a difference between a female and a male crew – says Kirsten Harmstorf, „Tutima”’s helmswoman. – Ok, it might be the case that it takes us a bit longer to hoist the sails 23 metres or to grind the sheets, but that’s not really a big problem. We are trying to compensate for that with 2 girls on the respective positions. Well, in very rough conditions I would say yes, due to the physical strength required. Usually, we are one of the biggest boats of the whole fleet, so we have to control 257 square meters of sails on a downwind course, which is quite tough in heavy weather conditions. Our spinnaker is 183 square meters in area, which costs a lot of manpower to set up and especially to collect when dropping! And that’s why we have 2-3 girls more on the crew than a male team would sail on the same boat, in order to compensate for less physical strength. Furthermore, we are doing a lot of exercise routines (using fitness devices, running, and gym workouts, and so on).
Anke Scheuermann, the Hot Quito helmswoman, believes that the proper preparation of crew and the boat can successfully overcome the differences between men and women.
– It is no secret that women are physically not as strong as men. That is obvious. The boats which are used in offshore sailing are really big, and forces are working on the sheets and on the rig that are really impressive and it is important to respect the conditions. We have to be fit and powerful to get these forces under control. But last season and especially the beginning of this season showed that sailing in heavy conditions is really challenging regarding strength, but also a question of technique in controlling the boat. But controlling a big boat always needs physical strength and men’s teams are at an advantage. We have to compensate for this with sailing technique, rig trim and combination of sails to de-power the boat earlier to have it under control.
Apart from the teams from Germany and other western European countries, there are also other contributors from abroad involved in the event. The Pantaenius Yacht Insurance company is one of our more important Europeans partners. Pantaenius not only helps yacht owners to take care of the safety of their boats, but also for many years has supported numerous sailing events around the world, such as regattas, and sailing photography competitions, amongst others. And this year Pantaenius is supporting an event of particulary high rank in the Dr Irena Eris ORC European Championship Gdańsk 2017.
The Polish women will be represented in the European Championship in Gdańsk by the 12 woman Shekle crew.
– We live in different cities, some of us abroad, so we know that the logistics are very important, and that is why we are so good on board – says Ane Piżl, the first „bow woman” of the Polish women’s team. – At every position you have to be strong and physically fit. Sports preparation is very important. Sailing is for most people a recreational activity. And that’s fine. But its sporting aspect is something completely different. On the boat there is no time to sit down, drink water, or other things. We take part mainly in dynamic races, where the work of the whole crew is necessary. You have to take care of your fitness levels.
Dorota Dajkowska, helmswoman in the Shekle team, is banking on a good start in the Europeans, despite the fact that her crew hasn’t had much racing experience yet.
– I am very happy and proud to be the helmswoman and the coach of the first female twelve-person racing team in Poland – says Dorota. – It’s a big challenge for me to control the 43-foot Oiler.com” racing yacht, and to have the girls onboard working together. The Shekle team is both a sports and a social project that activates women. We hope to inspire women across the country to believe that sailing on large yachts is also open to them. After the training last season we decided to join the European Championship, although we know that against other teams we will be one of the less experienced teams. We set a very high target, because it is magical and exciting to be taking part. The most important thing is to enjoy it and to promote sailing, so we put our shoulder to the wheel and have fulfilled our dreams. This year before the start of competition, we are going to have several one-week long training sessions. I believe that those working hours on the water will pay off during the European Championships. I hope we can have a friendly rivalry with the other crews. So keep your fingers crossed!
For the three womens’ crews participation in the Gdańsk event will be a very important point in the regatta calendar for this year. This is especially true for the Polish team, who have stated that they will be trying their best during the most important regatta in the history of Polish sailing. The women teams will surely be equal competitors to the male crews. And they certainly have the appetite for regatta trophies!