"Life is enduring an adventure or nothing"- Helen Keller
Just under five years since she started sailing, Sara Hastreiter is doing her first Volvo Ocean Race. To put this in perspective, some of the guys in the other teams have over 10 years' experience offshore sailing, so it's kudos to Sara that she's been able to develop the physical and mental skills required to sail in the world's toughest ocean race.
Sara started her career in the Caribbean, an entirely different kettle of fish to where we are at the moment, right in the middle of the remote Southern Ocean.
After finishing her first 6,000-mile ocean trip Sara realised that she wanted to do more offshore sailing, so she headed back to the USA to complete a safety course before getting a job on a racing cruising boat.
For those looking for racing opportunities in the USA, Newport in Rhode Island is one of the best places to go. This is where Sara covered tens of thousands of miles on crossings, racing and deliveries and is actually where Team SCA will be heading towards on leg six of the Volvo Ocean Race.
For Sara, and for hundreds of female sailors around the world, big opportunities for women on a professional sailing level have been few and far between. Sailing remains a very male dominated field, which is why this project with Team SCA has been such an exciting one.
The whole Volvo Ocean Race experience has not only empowered us as professional sailors, but empowered us as women too, and this is a message that we have wanted to share as we continue our journey.
Being involved with our team sponsor, global hygiene company SCA has enabled us to spread a message of women's empowerment all over the world. From helping to challenge some of the taboos and stereotypes that still surround key women's hygiene issues to meeting, greeting and spending time with local communities, we hope to help inspire a new generation of empowered women.
I think I speak for the whole of Team SCA when I say that it's been great to be a part of, what many of us consider to be, the pinnacle of offshore ocean racing. While the level of commitment required to be a part of the the race is extreme, the Volvo Ocean Race is one of life's great adventures and has given us a great opportunity to challenge ourselves, both as a team and as individuals.
With half of the race now behind us, I spoke to Sara about her experience so far. For her, it's been both incredible and intimidating at the same time. It's been hard, and every leg has come with its own challenges, but Sara has really enjoyed seeing the team come together to overcome each and every one of them.
Sara, along with many other members of Team SCA, including myself, who are yet to complete a Volvo Ocean Race, looked at leg five with a mixture of apprehension and excitement.
I agree with Sara when she said that she just wanted to see how bad, how cold, how fast and how furious it would be. One of the reasons why many of us chose to take part in this race is that we thrive on adrenalin, and sailing the Southern Ocean is often compared to being on a roller-coaster for 12 days. Yes, there are moments when you feel that you're a bit out of control, but it's a huge rush!
Thank you for following us, and make sure you come and say hello on Twitter using the hashtag #teamsca!