As the book telling the story of the female crew, Team SCA and how they took on the world’s toughest ocean race – the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/5, a 40,000-mile race around the world – goes on sale in Ireland, Afloat.ie sat down with the author, Yvonne Gordon, to find out about how the book came together.
When Yvonne, who is an accomplished dinghy sailor herself, heard about the team in early 2014, she arranged to go training with them from their base in Lanzarote to write a story for The Sunday Times. She was captivated by their story and how they set about taking on the Volvo Ocean Race - an oceanic rollercoaster ride that pushes the physical and mental boundaries of human endurance.
When Team SCA decided to produce a book, Yvonne followed and interviewed the team as they raced competitively around the world, to give readers a unique insight into life on board and the challenges the team faced as they took on their global marathon. Ocean racing has traditionally been the preserve of men, but over a gruelling nine months Team SCA proved that women can compete on an equal footing.
The dramatic stories of the crew, gathered by Yvonne during the race, combined with the engaging images of the onboard reporters Anna-Lena Elled and Corinna Halloran and the exceptional photography of yachting photographer Rick Tomlinson, make this an extraordinary book.
Afloat: What was the most challenging thing about putting the book together?
Yvonne: "The biggest challenge was that the girls were out to sea most of the time during the nine months of the race, so we had to catch them in port during their very short stopovers after each leg - when they were also busy resting, seeing family and recovering - to get the stories of the previous leg while they were still fresh. I was writing the book as the race went along."
Afloat: How did you pick what photos would go into the book?
Yvonne: "Yachting photographer Rick Tomlinson, the book's photo editor, selected the best photos taken by the onboard reporters after each leg of the race and then I asked different crewmembers to tell me the story of what happened during the leg. Talking through the leg and looking at the photos opened up a world of stories and anecdotes."
Afloat: Did you notice any change in the team as the race went along?
Yvonne: "One thing that was incredible to see was the huge following that Team SCA had - they were popular at the race start, but at each stopover, the number of boats and fans following them seemed to be bigger and bigger. Seeing the number of boats following them in to port after the Lisbon in-port race was actually quite a moving experience."
"Regardless of their results in the race, the tough challenge they had taken on and refusing to be held back by male boundaries inspired women all around the world both on and off the water. That was amazing to see."
"There are very few sports where women compete directly with men, and I hope that as well as being an interesting read and photo story, Team SCA's story inspires a whole generation of female sailors and paves the way for more women in offshore sailing."
Journey Of Change, is available directly from the Afloat site here
Journey of Change: Women Pushing Boundaries
Author: Yvonne Gordon
Photography: Anna-Lena Elled, Corinna Halloran and Rick Tomlinson