much ado about nothing?

We like Brian and usually agree with his opinion, but we saw the video. It didn’t move the needle for us. How about you? – ed

Watch out, the scrotum thought police are here!
Millions of us watched enthralled as the boats in this current Volvo Ocean Race hurtled down the Atlantic from Portugal to South Africa. The racing was intense and  extremely close and we were able to follow the onboard action daily though a stream of excellent reports from the onboard reporters. Much of it was of water cascading down the deck, crew hanging on despite being pummeled, and occasionally there was the stunning sunset.
There was also a video that disturbed not only me, but many who saw it. That video was shot on board the Hong Kong entry Sun Hung Kai Scallywag. In that video, and yes I am sure that you know which one I am referring to, Skipper David Witt narrates a segment that includes Annemieke Bes, the sole female onboard. I appreciate that Witt was trying to be funny and the rest of the crew seemed to be going along with him, although it appeared as if they were a tad uncomfortable about it, but it was more than just a little inappropriate. What was even more inappropriate was that it was uploaded to the Volvo Ocean Race website and stayed there for an inordinate amount of time before being taken down.
I am not going to go into the gross details of Witt’s commentary, but it’s suffice to say that it was at best downright rude and disgusting, and at worst sexual harassment. I have raced in three of these races back when it was called the Whitbread and feel that I have a right, if not a duty, to call this out. I am not really calling Witt out; apparently he prides himself on his Neanderthal view of the world and he regards this just as boys being boys. I am sure that he found President Trump’s comments about grabbing women inappropriately just “locker room” talk and probably dismisses the numerous scandals surrounding movie stars and politicians as a witch hunt. So be it, some people still need to come out from under their rock. No, this open letter it to call out the Volvo Ocean Race and their sponsor Volvo AB.

I understand that there is a way for the onboard reporters to upload video direct to the VOR website and I think that’s a great idea. You get the immediacy that brings the race to life. This video was probably uploaded directly without any oversight from either the VOR media team or the people at Volvo AB, but here’s where it goes off the rails. That video, which offended many people and not only women, was allowed to stay up there and be viewed for an extended length of time.
Let’s look at this another way; imagine the corporate environment at Volvo AB. Some employees are shooting a video showing how much fun the working environment at the company is. Maybe it would go viral and gain Volvo some very inexpensive publicity. Imagine the video was about a group of male employees discussing their rashes in very sensitive areas and then inviting the lone female employee in and asking her how best to deal with the problem. Are you now starting to see my issue with this?
Clare Francis was, to the best of my knowledge, one of the first women to compete in this race, at least for sure she was the first female skipper. She was a pioneer. She was followed by many pioneering women. Tracy Edwards skippered the first-ever all-female entry in the race and with great distinction. Dawn Riley took over the helm of Heineken and they sailed a great race.
Christine Guillou aboard EF Language did yeoman work to further the notion that women could compete side by side with their male counterparts as did Lisa Mc Donald as skipper of Amer Sports One. Three years ago, the ladies aboard Team SCA with the great Sam Davies at the helm managed a terrific campaign and sent back powerful video and images of women excelling in this sport. How can it be that despite these herculean efforts, it appears that this iconic event has let itself go back to the dark ages?
Some digging around leads me to believe that most of the crew on Sun Hung Kai Scallywag had no idea that this would be uploaded and are mortified to know that it’s out there in Cyberland. But Volvo, you knew, and you did nothing about it. Have you not been reading the papers or watching TV? Men sexually harassing women is not only not cool, it’s downright distasteful bordering on disgusting. I appreciate that encouraging mixed gender crews is new territory, and territory that I fully support, but this?
So here is the reason for this open letter. What to do about it? I am probably not the right person to answer that question. Let’s leave it for people better trained in these issues. I am just the father of a daughter, brother of a sister and fiancée of a lovely woman and I never want to see this kind of crap on the airwaves of this awesome event ever again.
– Brian Hancock.