Saturday in the event tent of the ORC Worlds 2023 in Kiel, Germany: The chairs on the podium are being adjusted, the control room is checking the microphones, the zoom meeting is being started, and the data line for the livestream is being checked. The women sailors prepare the stage for the presentation of a new cooperation: The German „Offshoreseglerinnen“ initiative want to join forces with the Magenta Project.
It is the first cooperation of the worldwide network for women in sailing with a national project, for which float as the exclusive project partner has created the legal and financial basis with the Magenta Project.
A buzz of excitement spreads, with the women from the various crews taking the front seats in front of the stage. In the back, where the men stand together, it’s still raucous. It takes a few calls from the podium to make the women offshore sailors‘ project heard.
These are moments with symbolic character: Among the nearly 1,000 participants in the World Championship of Sea Sailors, about 16 percent are women. Access for women to this male-dominated sport remains difficult – despite all the initiatives and campaigns in the past.
Female Power to the Race © Christian Beeck
On the panel, Kirsten Harmstorf-Schönwitz, the pioneer of German Offshoreseglerinnen, and Eshana Müller, one of the up-and-coming women offshore sailors, will discuss with international stars Meg Reilly, Annie Lush and Susann Beucke, who will participate online.
Moderated by float editor-in-chief Kerstin Zillmer and Jessica Klingelhöfer from the Offshoreseglerinnen, the focus will be on ways to make it easier for women to enter professional sailing and to ensure more equal opportunities. The cooperation of the Offshoreseglerinnen with the Magenta Project is intended to open doors and has a prominent patron: Annie Lush has agreed to be the patron of this cooperation.
The 43-year-old Briton is the ideal choice, because the three-time Ocean Race participant is not only one of the co-founders of the Magenta Project, she also has deep insights into German sailing as a crew member of Offshore Team Germany and Jens Kuphal’s „Intermezzo“. Annie Lush sees the German sailing sport on the upswing and thus good chances that German women will assert themselves more in the future.
Not quota, but ability
„Germany took a big step forward at the Olympics. There are fantastic women who we will see more of in professional sailing in the future.“ And it won’t just be quotas that are met on board the yachts. Annie Lush herself just had this experience in The Ocean Race aboard „Guyot environnement – Team Europe.“ „I was not part of the crew because I am a woman, but I brought the experience of offshore sailing to the team.“
Annie Lush, patron of the cooperation © The Ocean Race
However, it was a long way to this recognition. With the participation of the all-female team „SCA“ in the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15, the women attracted attention with a stage victory, among other things. However, this attention quickly faded when the sponsor withdrew. The Magenta Project, whose CEO is Meg Reilly today, was founded out of the crew.