I've sailed before but not quite like this! After writing about Team SCA and their amazing adventure racing around the world, I was invited on a press trip to sail with them. I'm going to try to put into words how incredible of an experience this was for me.
While the entire Team SCA crew was not on board, 2 of its sailors were there to answer all my questions. Just to clarify, the Volvo Ocean Race is ongoing and was in full effect while I was on this press trip, but a few crew members at a time are allowed to come off the boat for a leg of the race and rest up. They meet up with their team at the next stop. For my press trip, Sara and Elodie were my guides. I learned a lot from them about Team SCA's voyage, race conditions and day to day life at sea during this gorgeous afternoon spent sailing on the Hudson River.
I made this video to show you what it was like on the boat. Even though it was sunny and warm outside, we were all bundled up.
The TP52 yacht you see me sailing on is not the actual racing boat that Team SCA is currently using. It's a smaller replica used for press trips to give us an idea of what it's like on-board and how the crew work to keep it sailing properly. The actual VO65 racing yacht is 65 feet long, but overall the TP52 is the same concept.
Let me start by saying that I could not imagine spending 9-months of my life on a boat like this. Whether it's 52 or 65 feet, it's not that much space at all once you're sailing on the vast ocean. I give these women so much credit.
When the crew noticed that I was enjoying myself a little too much while everyone else manned the boat (or should I say "wo-manned"?), they called me over to steer. I did not enjoy this one bit because I just wanted to keep the boat steady and flat. Impossible! Every time one side of the boat tilted upwards, I feared I'd overturn us and drown all my newly made friends. Not a good look especially with Bloomberg and NPR on board.
Sailing a racing boat is not easy! There are all kinds of numbers beyond my comprehension that you must pay attention to. Can you imagine being at sea for 9-months straight? I totally understand the thrill of this sport although I could not hack it myself. The views made everything entirely worth it to me (being the iPhone photographer that I am). Looking back at the skyline of NYC and seeing the Statue of Liberty from the TP52 as we cruised along the Hudson was so magical.
Check out Scott Neuman below. He's the NPR reporter that was on the sail with me.
Have you ever listened to NPR before and heard the amazing background sound captured from their on-location reporting? That's what he's doing here! It was so cool to watch him doing this, and even more exciting to hear him put it all together in his final piece. Listen to it by clicking the red link right below. It's fantastic!
A Boat Of Their Own: All-Women Team Tackles Sailing's Toughest Race
My sail with Team SCA was just a taste of what it's like to be on a racing boat with the world's best women offshore-racing sailors. What I can tell you is that sailing is quite a workout. It's very different than the kind of workout you do at the gym though. Just taking a sail down and folding it up requires the strength and focus of many (as you can see in the pic below). There's a lot of climbing, shifting, ducking, cranking, pulling and tightening required. I was worn out by the time we docked!
I'm a truth teller so I won't lie to you and tell you that my perfect day sailing is what it's like for Team SCA every day when they're out in the ocean racing. Their angles are CLEARLY a lot more frightening than the ones I experienced. Check out the pic below of the team on VO65.
Sailors Sara Hastreiter and Elodie Mettraux, the 2 members of the team who guided our press sail, explained that for the most part EVERYTHING gets wet! Even when you're down in the cabin, there tends to be water sloshing around. And you're usually only in the cabin to sleep or eat. The women sleep in 4-hour shifts and attempt to stay dry by zipping up entirely in their sleeping bags.
Clothing is one of the most important things because the team doesn't get to change much. There isn't time or really much of a need, Sara told me. Everything has to be warm, moisture wicking and water resistant. They wear a lot of wool blends and silky feeling sport tops that don't chafe their skin. At times, the women are so covered up in their water resistant shells, caps and boots that the only thing you can see are their eyes.
Sara claims she's worn up to 3 pairs of socks at a time, and even plastic bags as a layer over the socks to try and keep the water out.
Sara (American) and Elodie (Swiss) are close friends on the boat. But not everyone is as close as you'd think or might expect of women who spend day-in and day-out together. Sara and Elodie tell me that it's all business on the boat. If things get tense onboard they hash it out later on shore during a stop...and that's when emotions flow. The Volvo Ocean Race isn't about making best friends, it's about racing their hearts out and proving that they're a high-performance team capable of winning.
So much is at stake, which means their mental health, physical health and diet needs to stay in check. A Team SCA appointed physician travels with the sailors to make sure they don't lose weight or get sick during the sail. Sara cringed her nose when I asked about the food. "It's shit" she says, "but you get used to it." She mentioned freeze dried meals like porridge and mashed potatoes. The girls also get 1 chocolate bar a day. Sarah tells me: "We're constantly eating because we're constantly working. This isn't a spa. We didn't come here to lose weight."
As my sail with Team SCA came to a close, I realized there are some really amazing women in this world doing things I'd never have the courage to do. We're all put on this earth to follow a path but the beauty of it is that you can pave that path yourself...or in Team SCA's case, sail it!
Team SCA launched a campaign in conjunction with their race called Amazing Women Everywhere. Please go to the web page and submit a woman whose strength and accompliments amaze you. It's super easy and a wonderful way to honor the women who inspire you. The woman you submit will get a notice that you've shared her story, which is a nice gift and token of your appreciation and love. I nominated my mother.
To stay up to speed on the amazing women of Team SCA, follow them on their Facebook page HERE. #amazingwomeneverywhere #weareteamSCA
SCA believes that everyone should have the opportunity to live life to the fullest, and we are committed to creating value for people and nature. To champion these ideals, SCA launches Amazing Women Everywhere, to celebrate women who have a positive impact on others.The women of SCA's all-female racing team, Team SCA, exemplify this spirit. They have come from all walks of life and backgrounds to take on one of the world's most challenging endeavors, the Volvo Ocean Race. For nine months, their journey of hard work and determination will inspire millions around the world. Follow along with Team SCA on Facebook!We aim to gather thousands of stories from all over the world and inspire thousands more by illustrating that amazing women truly are everywhere. Visit http://www.teamsca.com/awemosaic to submit a photo of an amazing woman in your life. This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SCA. The opinions and text are all mine.