Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

We tracked down London freelance author Johanna Payton when we heard she’d be sailing with Dee Cafari and Sam Davies on their Round Britain record attempt in the Open 60 Aviva.  Jo couldn’t make the trip for reasons detailed below, but she’s written an excellent description of her experience training with the girls below, and yes; she’s a hottie.  Speaking of Sam Davies, she’s just signed on to team Artemis with co-skipper Sydney Gavignet for the TransAt Jacques Vabre; a blazing fast duo for sure with dolid chances, and you can check out the thread for the latest.  In the meantime, enjoy Jo’s piece.

Everybody’s heard of Dame Ellen. Until this year’s Vendee Globe, McArthur’s (household) name was synonymous with women’s sailing. The plucky soul who braved oceans on her lonesome was not going quietly when it came to ruling sailing’s PR waves. Like most non-sailors, I too was under the impression that Ellen McArthur was a sporting anomaly.

In January this year I was harangued by an enthusiastic publicist, keen for me to include Dee Caffari in a piece I was writing about women doing traditionally ‘male’ jobs. The name didn’t ring any bells. As a landlocked freelance journalist, writing about the health, wealth and relationship woes of British women from my London office, sailing superstars were way off my radar.

A couple of days later another publicist came out of the woodwork, offering an interview with Sam Davies. That name wasn’t familiar either, but I soon found out she was another chick stuck well into the Vendee Globe. So there were two ‘Dame Ellens’ out there on the high seas, competing on equal terms with the boys, and I knew nothing about it. Unlike their lauded predecessor, who always struck me as the squeakiest of clean, these girls had a bit of an edge. They were strong, independent women doing something other women could actually aspire to. Hell, Dee Caffari used to be a PE teacher; I thought you had to be born on a monohull to have a shot at sailing success.