And so, rather simply, it begins: Team SCA begins sailing around the world in the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race, a 39,750 nautical mile ocean race reaching 10 countries over the next nine months. On the boat we are sailing with 12 women, including one onboard reporter (that's me), but our sailing team is made up of 14 women - all incredibly strong and intelligent on the art of sailing offshore.
The Volvo Ocean Race is what one might call an 'epic' sporting event - it's like racing up and down Mount Everest for weeks, through storms and strangely calm moments, day and night, only to stop short rests at the base camps.
The most unique part about Team SCA is we are a group of extraordinary women taking place in an event usually dominated by men. By no means has this been an intentional all-male event, except that's been the trend - well, until now.
On 11 October after months and months of training, we set off from Alicante, Spain, leaving behind parents, partners, children, and a bay full of spectators, with six other teams, all of whom are male but range in age and experience. To leave was incredibly surreal, and for a while it felt like we were going for just a little sail - not a 26-day sail to Cape Town.
I was sat having a conversation with our navigator Libby Greenhalgh and she was shocked at how emotional she was. It's strange because everyone is waving good bye to you like you're heading off for this impending doom. But as Libby explained, in reality, you're just going to race, and once you're out here, you realise: we've done this before.
This is my first major sporting event, but one thing I have realised the last few weeks is the value of training. Collectively as a full time squad we have trained for months, sailing every day and racking up thousands of miles together. We have been in the gym nearly every morning together; we have been eating the same meals together. Together we have been living and breathing Team SCA, our team's goal, and sailing. And, I know this is our strength: we are prepared. We are ready for this.
I know that our training is the reason why, on game day, we were all incredibly calm. I know that our training is the reason why on the days leading up to 11 October, we were our normal selves: smiley and laughing. Sure, we have not all seen the ocean release her furry, but we trust our teammates who have to lead us through the unruly sea. Plus, we know our boat, we know our teammates, and we know how to be smart offshore - and that's the majority of the battle.
Our training is the reason why we are able to focus our energy correctly rather than panic. Our training is the reason why on the second evening we made a decision to follow our gut, separate from the fleet, sail in a different direction, and come our 21 nautical miles ahead of the rest of the boats! Needless to say, it was an incredibly good feeling.
We have put in the blood, sweat, and tears so that now we can focus and race seriously hard, and inspire women around the world to go out and achieve their dreams. After all, we're not just here to race a sailing race - we're here to give women, everywhere, young and old, the opportunity to make their dreams a reality.Suggest a correction