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Female Round Ireland Record Bid is Set for October

6th October 2020
Cat Hunt (left) and Pamela Lee are setting out on a Round Ireland record bid later this month Cat Hunt (left) and Pamela Lee are setting out on a Round Ireland record bid later this month

Sometime after October 12, British skipper Cat Hunt and Greystones, County Wicklow sailor Pamela Lee aim to sail a Figaro Bénéteau III racing yacht around Ireland, in an attempt to set the first record for an all-female, doublehanded sailing circumnavigation.

They are undertaking the challenge in partnership with The Magenta Project, a collective set up to support women at the highest level of sailing.

The two sailors are taking on this challenge with the hope of inspiring girls in Ireland and the UK to move into offshore sailing after graduating from dinghies and to aspire to skippering large boats.

The offshore circumnavigation of Ireland is approximately 700 nautical miles, which will take about five days and nights.

Hunt and Lee say they wanted to set this record as an all-female crew, to demonstrate that women are not part of the shorthanded and fully crewed offshore sailing scene just because of a mixed crew requirement, with the likes of the Olympic and Ocean Race rules, but because they are strong, motivated sailors in their own right.

“Shorthanded racing is a great discipline because it demands that each skipper is skilled in all aspects of offshore sailing – from navigation to helming and sail trimming,” says Hunt, a 21 a 21-year-old British sailor, focused on offshore shorthanded sailing

“It is fantastic for females to be involved in particular because it offers opportunities to learn and take the lead onboard that are often harder for women to fulfil on a fully crewed boat, where roles are more compartmentalised.” says,  Lee a co-skipper with RL Sailing, an Irish team formed with Kenneth Rumball.

“There is talent, enthusiasm and potential among young, female sailors in Ireland and the UK, but often a lack of awareness about the avenues for participation for women,” say the skippers. “We hope our record attempt will help to break down some of the stereotypes, related to accessibility and male dominance, and will generate excitement – encouraging other girls to get out and try to break the record we set!”

From France to Ireland

Following delivery of the boat from Lorient, France the hub of offshore sailing and a quarantine period in Ireland, from the 12 October they will be ready and waiting to set sail, once a suitable window materialises. professional navigator will be working alongside them to find the optimum window.

Record Route

The original plan for Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) was to follow the classic route of the biennial Round Ireland Race. That route begins off Wicklow Sailing Club and heads south, keeping Ireland and all its islands and rocks to starboard (to the right of the boat). However, soon after the launch of the record bid, the girls switched to the World Sailing Record route that begins and ends off the Kish light on Dublin Bay and can be navigated either north or south about, as Afloat reports here.

As there are only two of them and they will be sailing without stopping for up to five days and nights, they will run a two-hour rotation of being ‘on watch’ (so the longest break each will have over the duration of the journey for rest, sleep or food will be two hours). A watch needs to be maintained at all times not only for safety reasons, but because there are constant adjustments required to maintain speed and react to changing weather conditions. The skippers will also work together as a team on deck whenever manoeuvres such as sail changes are required.

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