Page 3 girl christens women's EDS boat

Tabloid feeding frenzy as busty blonde busts bottle on babe's boat

Friday June 22nd 2001, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
A slightly grumpy group of international yachtswomen had gathered at Butlers Wharf in the shadow of Tower Bridge along with a posse of Fleet Street photographers for the christening of their Open 60 challenger for the EDS Atlantic Challenge, by the partially clad page three girl, Jordan.
One couldn't help but notice the strange juxtaposition of the all-female crew striking a blow for women's yachting and at the other end of philosophical spectrum ,Jordan - best described a pair of bean poles with two balloons attached, topped by a flurry of blonde hair - posing there topless except for a lifering. The paparazzi were happy, the crew bit their collective lip and the new sponsor got their splash.

The women's boat in the forthcoming EDS Atlantic Challenge is being sponsored by Alphagraphics, an international fast response corporate printing service, that is part owned by Pindar, the company who sponsor Emma Richards.

Helena Darvelid's cosmopolitan crew includes Californian co-skipper Carol Archer, former Royal & SunAlliance crew Frederique Brule, America3 crew and team navigator Suzette Smith, Salcombe-based Polish yachtswoman Asia Pajkowska and Emma Richard's elder sister Philippa. Unlike many of the other crews taking part in the event, Darvelid's team will not be chopping and changing during the EDS Atlantic Challenge.



The boat is the much modified Petit/Bouvet Open 60 in which British yachtsman Richard Tolkien started the last Vendee Globe (originally it was Loick Peyron's Fujicolor II). Darvelid admits that apart from the delivery trip from Hamble up to London, she and her six crew have not sailed her much. "We've got to go through the sail inventory and we've got to practise gybing and taking reefs. But the boat is working okay."

Although it was lightened dramatically by a previous owner, the rig made taller, the aft quarters of the boat given more volume and the keel replaced with a more modern one, at the end of the day Darvelid's Alphagraphics is a 10 year old boat and unlikely to be on the pace compared to the immaculately prepared and sailed Kingfisher and Sill, nor Mike Golding's ECover. Won't this be another instance of a women's team following at the back end of the fleet? "We'll just have to sail smarter," answers Darvelid bravely. "If I wasn't in with a chance I wouldn't be here."

With the announcement of Lisa MacDonald's women's team in the Volvo Ocean Race, all-female crews in major ocean races seem to be flavour of the month. "I think Ellen MacArthur set it off a bit," explains Darvelid. "She captured people's imaginations, but we've been doing it a long time with Tracy (Edwards)". Darvelid sailed with Edwards on board Royal & SunAlliance and it was Edwards who recommended her for the skipper's position on Alphagraphics. Edwards was also present at the launch with her 18 month old daughter Mackenna.

While Alphagraphics have an all-female crew for the EDS Atlantic Challenge, the event will also be notable as one of the first major offshore events to have women sailing on the boy's boats: Miranda Merron is with Mike Golding and Isabelle Autissier will be racing on Fila.

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