Aussie all-women's offshore maxi team

Introducing the All Girl Crew

Wednesday July 27th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: Australia

As Australian sailors prepare to take part in the annual Audi Sydney to Southport race this Saturday, there’s one group of Australian female sailors focussing their sights on several major events with a much bigger agenda on the horizon. 20 women from New South Wales and Victoria have joined forces forming an All Girl Crew. The group of women are set to venture on one of the biggest challenges of a life time, the 2012 Australian Sailing Program and the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race.

The women who have come together as the 'Sisterhood' (editor's note: this is not the same 'sisterhood' as the more sinister European organisation that can make or break careers, lives even, and once operated from a hollowed out volcano on the Hamble peninsula), out of a love and passion for sailing will participate in a lengthy and intensive training program coached by professional sailor and 17 times Sydney to Hobart and America’s Cup participant, Matt Pearce, along with sailing instructor Jean Cane. Together the women will train in a scheduled program participating in major events as well as an overseas race in Europe, leading up to the 2012 Rolex Sydney to Hobart. For many of the women they will compete in this weekends Audi Sydney to Southport race and finish competing in pre-arranged 2011 sailing programs and will individually partake in the 2011 Rolex Sydney to Hobart on various yachts.

The women are currently on the lookout for a training boat, however they have been offered the 100ft Maxi (ex-Skandia-Wild Thing) for the program, owned by Grant Wharington. In order to secure a training vessel and yacht for the program, the women need to raise corporate sponsorship and invite and challenge companies to open up their cheque books and jump on board the exciting project.

The 20 All Girl Crew line up-consists of, Victorian women, Sophie Ciszek, Lisa Batson and Samantha Chandler, from Newcastle Karynne Lawler, Maree Edwards and Sibby Ilzhöfer. Sydney based sailors include Antonia Christie, Helen Buckland, Annie Lawrence, Sky Reidy, Michelle Gilfoyle, Rowena Cremer, Penny Meakins, Jenny Smith and Nicola Cole. While Cronulla-based mother and daughter team Christine Short, Nikki Short, Caitlin Short and Sarah Short and Sydney-based female Yachting Photo Journalist Nicole Scott completes the team.

Scott, will be the only media person joining the crew taking part in all races where she will work as a photo journalist first, sailing as a crew member second. Nicole also covered and took part in this weekend’s Audi Sydney to Southport race on Last Tango, a Salona 44, will be equipped with state of the art camera’s and filming gear for the entire program including the 2012 Rolex Sydney to Hobart. This will enable Nicole to document the entire journey, where she will send live images and video footage back to the mainstream media 24/7. Viewers worldwide will be able to tune in and watch the team live during major races.

An educational documentary DVD will be produced, promoting women in the sport of sailing while at the same time raising awareness and funds for their charity. The AGC have adopted Ovarian Cancer Research as their nominated charity aspiring to raise awareness of early detection on the deadly disease. The women anticipate raising a minimum of $250,000 for the cancer research and will also make a donation to the SOLAS Trust, Safety of Life at Sea.

Matt Pearce, husband and father of three girls and Team Manager/ Coach of the 20 female squad, supported the project by saying, “I am very excited to be part of quite a groundbreaking element to women in sailing and raising the awareness of Ovarian Cancer Research, there should be more of it”.

The All Girl Crew are well known in the tight knit sailing community, nationally and for many are internationally known. The AGC are just as competitive amongst the men and other women who sail year after year in major sailing events. Despite the competiveness and desires by the women themselves wanting to win the Hobart race, they amongst many skippers and crew recognise that safety is paramount and always comes first.

Nonetheless, the All Girl Crew are on a mission and have an unbreakable bond. They have a goal set to take out Line Honours for the 2012 Rolex Sydney to Hobart aiming to cross the finish line in front of Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats XI and Anthony Bell’s Loyal Investec.


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