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Following Vendée Globe competitor Clarisse Crémer’s “shock” at being dropped by her main sponsor after taking time off to have a baby, the World Sailing Trust was among those who took notice and has now published a set of recommendations to improve maternity policies in high-level sailing.

Titled ‘Project Juno’, the trust’s report comprises six recommendations “to look to set the sport of sailing on a more inclusive course when it comes to women who wish to become mothers and remain in their chosen fields”.

Speaking about the report, World Sailing Trust chair and legendary offshore sailor Dee Caffari said: “Following our publication of the Women in Sailing Strategic Review in 2019 and subsequent research into participation and the governance of the sport, we are well-placed to understand the challenges that face athletes and others who wish to become mothers.

“The pace of change regarding attitudes to mothers in sailing has been slow. When Clarisse Crémer confirmed on social media that she had been let go by her sponsor, Banque Populaire, there was uproar.

“But one does not need to dig too deep to find similar stories that. Olympians Theresa Zabell and Shirley Robertson both fell foul of the ‘system’ not being sufficiently flexible or accommodating of pregnant and new mothers, and there are doubtless many more.

“Project Juno looks at the four primary areas that athletes, teams, organisations and stakeholders should consider when looking at how to best support mothers and fathers. Through them, we also call on our sport to remove the ‘mother blinkers’ and accept that it will only be the best it can be only by being diverse and inclusive.”

Duncan Truswell of Sport England and a World Sailing Trust trustee added: “The rules are not deliberately made to discriminate, but, in the main, they do. This does not come from a place of prejudice or negativity but rather from a history of being a male-dominated sport. There is no immediate overnight fix and Project Juno is a work in progress, a first step to improve and make things better.”

The Project Juno report is available to download from the World Sailing Trust website HERE.

Published in Vendee Globe