Despite only a handful of training days, the Thalassa Magenta Racing team took two podium positions during the Extreme Sailing Series in Lisbon.

10 October

Thalassa Magenta Racing – the first all-female team to ever take part in the Extreme Sailing Series – took two podium positions over the three days of racing in Lisbon.

Despite ending the first day one place above the bottom of the table, Thalassa Magenta Racing’s sailors came into the dock with huge grins on their faces after scoring a podium finish in what was only their second ever race together on a GC32.

Led by former Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat, the team racing in the Extreme Sailing Series included some of the world’s best female sailors – Sally Barkow (USA), Hannah Diamond (GBR), Annie Lush (GBR), Elodie Mettraux (SUI) and Portugal’s Mariana Lobato.

Ferris-Choat said the result not only settled a few opening day nerves, but also proved the crew can compete at the highest level.

“It was a huge day for us and Thalassa Magenta Racing,” said Ferris-Choat, who is racing under the Canadian flag.

“We were really anxious on the start line of the first race because it was something we’d never done before. Timing on the start is so critical in these boats and it can mean the difference between winning and losing so we played it a bit safe on the first race, but in race two we got in amongst it,” she said.

“Coming third in that race showed us mixing it up with the best of the best and proving to everyone that we can do it. Conditions were light and tricky but we sailed well. The anxiety levels going into tomorrow will be much less than they were today and we plan to sail smart and fast,” added Ferris-Choat.

Thalassa Magenta Racing at the Extreme Sailing Series

Thalassa Magenta Racing in Lisbon. Credit: Lloyd Images

After the first day, Thalassa Magenta Racing was eighth, and in front of the Land Rover BAR Academy.

The team continued to sail “smart and fast” during the second day.

After taking a runners-up spot in the second race of the day, Thalassa Magenta Racing  moved one place up the rankings into seventh.

There was drama on the final day, with a collision between the all-woman crew and the SAP Extreme Sailing Team.

This forced the Danish crew to haul their boat out and carry out repairs that saw them miss four of the day’s six races.

Thalassa Magenta Racing finished ninth overall and are hoping to continue the momentum to look for a sponsor for the 2017 season.

The team are being backed by Extreme Sailing Series clothing supplier Marinepool in partnership with the Magenta Project, the not-for-profit organisation born from the legacy of Team SCA, the all-female crew that competed in the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race.

British sailor Dee Caffari, the only woman ever to sail solo round the world in both directions and a former Team SCA crewmember, says it’s vital to keeping up the momentum as they search for a sponsor to support them in the 2017 Extreme Sailing Series.

“The first big step for us came this summer when we were able to get access to a GC32 in Cowes,” Caffari said. “Sharon was the only woman prior to that to have sailed a GC32 and she was able to give her time to coach us.”

“We got 15 girls on the boat over a few days and it made us believe that we could make this happen. We created such momentum with Team SCA that we wanted to keep it going. Although competing in Lisbon is just the first step there’s a real feeling and excitement that we can make this work,” added Caffari.

“We’ve not had long in the boat but already we’re surprising a few people, mixing it up with the regular teams and getting some good results. We’re hoping to make a big enough splash as a female team to show people that it can be done, and attract a sponsor for the 2017 season,” said Caffari.

For Ferris-Choat, Thalassa Magenta Racing’s debut is just the start of something massive.

“Imagine if there were a couple of girls’ teams out there racing?” she said.

“There are loads of girls out there who are talented enough to make it a real possibility. The point of us being here is to showcase the team and what we’re capable of,” she stressed.

“We’re sailing really well, we’re competitive and we are showing we can beat these guys. There are exciting times ahead for Thalassa Magenta Racing,” said Ferris-Choat.

Extreme Sailing Series – Lisbon Results

1st Alinghi (SUI)
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT)
4th Oman Air (OMA)
5th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN)
6th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR)
7th Vega Racing (USA)
8th Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR)
9th Thalassa Magenta Racing (CAN)

Extreme Sailing Series™ 2016 overall standings

1st Oman Air (OMA) 79 points.
2nd Alinghi (SUI) 77 points.
3rd Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) 73 points.
4th SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) 61 points.
5th Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) 54 points.
6th Sail Portugal – Visit Madeira (POR) 49 points.
7th CHINA One (CHN) 29 points.
8th Team Turx (TUR) 11 points.

The eighth and final Act of the Extreme Sailing Series takes place in Sydney from 8-11 December.
5 October

The first all-female GC32 team, Thalassa Magenta Racing in partnership with The Magenta Project, will make its debut in the Extreme Sailing Series at the penultimate event of the year in Lisbon.

Nine world-class teams will go head-to-head as the Portuguese capital hosts the global stadium racing tour for the first time on 6-9 October 2016.

Thalassa Magenta Racing, in partnership with The Magenta Project, will make its debut in the Extreme Sailing Series in Lisbon on 6 October, 2016.

The team. Credit: Amalia Infante

The Thalassa Magenta Racing crew roster includes some of the world’s most successful female sailors.

The new team will race with six crew members, as opposed to five on the all-male boats.

The Canadian-flagged catamaran will be skippered by New Zealand Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat.

The race crew will be selected from the likes of ocean racers Dee Caffari (GBR), Elodie Mettraux (SUI) and Abby Ehler (GBR); Olympians Sally Barkow (USA), Annie Lush (GBR) and Gemma Jones (NZL); Olympic Silver medalist Annemieke Bes (NED), Nacra 17 World Silver medalist Hannah Diamond (GBR) and 420 World and European champion Annabel Vose (GBR).

Thalassa Magenta Racing, in partnership with The Magenta Project, aims to give female sailors opportunities and pathways to compete at the highest performance levels of the sport.

The team’s entry into the Lisbon act is part of a long-term ambition to create an all-female crew capable of being competitive in the Extreme Sailing Series.

Ferris-Choat is the only woman currently racing on board a GC32.

She said she is delighted to be racing in the Extreme Sailing Series.

“To be part of the Extreme Sailing Series has been a goal of mine for ten years,” she explained.

“It is the Formula One of sailing. With successful corporate exposure and VIP hosting, it offers high return to team partners and is very exciting sailing for the sailors. It’s a great balance and we are pleased to announce Marinepool as our sponsor for Lisbon,” continued Ferris-Choat.

“We aim to put a competitive team together for the 2017 series and Lisbon is the start of the adventure,” she added.

The participation of Thalassa Magenta Racing at Lisbon follows a GC32 training week earlier in the year for the all-female squad that saw a huge progression in skill and technique for the team.

Ferris-Choat continued: “To be the first all-female crew in the Extreme Sailing Series is a proud moment for all the girls in our GC32 squad. We have so many girls wanting to compete at an elite level of sailing – there is a absolute need to create this opportunity.”

This is the first time the Extreme Sailing Series has visited Lisbon.

Four days of racing are planned, including a longer coastal race combined with the series’ signature stadium racing format.

“I am looking forward to Lisbon very much,” commented race director, Phil Lawrence.

“We’re in the estuary of the port, so it will be tidal, and we could see a wide range of wind conditions; it could be quite windy or quite light.
“It will be a very different challenge for the sailors and it’s coming up really fast!” he added.

The action begins on 6 October 2016.

Ellen MacArthur

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