You as a woman – what do you think about women sailing? Do you see anything special in it?
The situation has improved a lot. So many women’s groups have been formed in recent years … There are still a lot of problems for women, because it’s mainly men who sail. Often women are not taken fully, but I want to sail actively, want to be involved. I have had very good experiences with women sailing. Men often think they can do things better than women. That’s a problem.
It’s great that sailors like Sam Davies and Dee Caffari and other women are showing that they are just as good at the Vendée Globe. They are good role models for women.
For me, it was important to have my own boat. When I did my sailing courses it was good that husbands, wives, partners were separated so that the men weren’t able to „help“ their partner. That’s how I learned to sail independently.
What did you do for the two years in Australia?
I was very active in Facebook groups where sailing women organise themselves and was lucky to be invited sometimes to join a boat racing or for a day or so cruising. While in Australia, I saw a lot of the country by travelling in a camper van.
Three times off Cape Horn
What was the most impressive cruise you have done. What was the greatest and most important experience?
I’ve been asked over and over what the best part of sailing around the world was for me. It’s the complete package: I enjoy the planning, the routing, the sailing, it’s all part of it.
One of my best experiences was sailing around Cape Horn. I’ve done it three times, but the last time was the most impressive. When I got there I had had a wonderful day of sailing, the wind was perfect, I could see the coastline.
At night there was a beautiful twilight. It was 19th of December and it was almost summer solstice there, so it didn’t get completely dark. But no sooner had I sailed around than a boat came right towards me, the wind and wave picked up abruptly and it got really hairy. That was a violent contrast.
Another significant moment was when I rounded the fifth cape at New Zealand after the disastrous knockdown – in glorious sailing weather. The first and fifth capes were very dramatic in very different ways.
How many knockdowns you had to suffer?
There were several. In 2011 I had a severe knockdown at Cape Horn with a lot of damage to the boat. I had to abort my non-stop circumnavigation because of that. Then I had some minor ones until the big knockdown off New Zealand in 2019. But the rig remained intact.
Ocean crossings are no big deal for Jeanne Socrates
Tough Lady. How do you manage to handle these situations?
I’ve sailed an extreme amount, around the world, up and down from Mexico to Alaska, across the Atlantic several times. For me, ocean crossings are no big deal (laughs). My boat is stable, I know it very well. I talk to friends and family on the radio, I make sure the boat is well prepared and I’m prepared.
Then you just have to keep an eye on the weather and try to sail as safely as possible. If it gets bad, I heave to and if it gets really bad, I have my Jordan Series Drogue.
„Age is not a factor“
How do you keep fit? Do you do any special sports? Do you do yoga, a certain diet, what do you do to stay healthy?
I don’t do enough sports and I’ve been sitting to much at the computer. I take some food supplements such as magnesium, calcium, fish oil, beet and vitamin D. I have been doing this for years. Whether it really helps, I don’t know. (laughs)
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