While crew lists for August’s race are not yet finalised, at present just over 10% of those competing in the biennial voyage will be women — more than double the rate of races in the 1990s.
The RORC cites role models such as Tracy Edwards, Ellen MacArthur and Dee Caffari as a reason for this increase in female participation — but notes that opportunities for women at all levels to go sailing are increasing “too slowly”.
For 40-year-old Laura Dillon, it was a high competitive drive from a young age that saw her progress from dinghies to 1720 Sportsboats to Beneteau Firsts in both the Round Ireland and Fastnet races.
This year she swaps the helm of Harry J Heijst’s S&S 41, Winsome, for a place on the four-strong crew of Conor Fogerty’s Figaro Beneteau 3, Raw — one of only three of the new offshore class in the race.
She observes that women’s participation in the Fastnet as enjoyed a considerable step up in the last generation — but says there is a direct parallel with women’s positions in the business world, and believes it will take another generation yet before their numbers increase substantially.
The Rolex Fastnet Race website has much more on this story HERE.