The Ocean Race 2022-23 featured more female sailors than in any of the previous events in the Race’s 50 year history.
Overall, across the five IMOCAs taking part in the round-the-world Race and the six VO65s taking part in The Ocean Race Sprint, there were 39 female sailors, making up 28 per cent of the competitors overall and 98 male sailors, making up 72 per cent. This is a third more than the previous edition and continues the upward trend of more women sailing in the Race. In 2014-15 18 per cent of competitors were female, while in the last edition (2017-18) the figure rose to 21 per cent.
While each IMOCA is required to have at least one female competitor on board the four-strong sailing team, and three of the ten sailors onboard VO65s are required to be female, Biotherm exceeded the quota, with two men and two women sailing in three of the seven legs*. The French IMOCA team also had a female onboard reporter (OBR) for several legs, as did Team Holcim - PRB, while Viva México had a female onboard reporter on all their legs and Mirpuri/Trifork Racing Team for leg 2. This marked another record for the Race, which had only one female OBR in the last edition and two in 2014-15.
The Ocean Race also made strides in the race for greater equality in sailing off the water, with other traditionally male-dominated roles seeing an increased number of women. Following a big push to bring gender balance to the race official roles, the current edition had an international jury of 11 members, composed of 6 women and 5 men. This figure is significantly higher than elsewhere in the industry, with certified international sailing judges only consisting of around 15 per cent women.
Richard Brisius, Race Chairman, The Ocean Race said: “Making sailing more inclusive is one of the most important things we can do to secure the future of the sport. We’re delighted to have a record percentage of female competitors in the Race and more females taking on traditionally male-dominated roles. We are sailing in the right direction, but more needs to be done to break down barriers and create pathways into the sport for women. Just as we have set an industry benchmark in driving more female participants in the sport, we need to move the dial on diversity and leave a legacy in which the sport becomes much more accessible to all.
“Coming together as an industry and working collaboratively is the only way that this can be achieved. For the Race, we will continue to work with our host cities and local and national sailing federations to create pathways and opportunities. We also need greater commitments and action across the industry.”