One thing about the wind: it blows with complete disregard for the gender of any who take to the water to compete against one another to determine the best sailor.
Case in point: When the Dongfeng crew won the 45,000 nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race, an event held every four years and requiring 2/3rds of a year to complete, the crew had Dutch sailor Carolijn Brouwer, Marie Riou of France and Justine Mettraux of Switzerland as part of the crew.
Brouwer lives on the Central Coast of NSW and is a former world champion, multiple Olympic Games competitor and a veteran of the Sydney to Hobart race.
The Chinese boat won the final leg, its first of the race, from Gothenburg to The Hague in a closely contested race that offered a three-way tie on points.
In commenting on the victory in what many consider the most prestigious open-water sailing race in the world, Brouwer told The Daily Telegraph, “It’s crazy. It has been an insane race; it has been an insane leg,” said Dutch sailor Brouwer, who also represented Belgium during her Olympic Tornado career.“We always said that we were going to win a leg and there’s no better leg to win than the last one — and here we are and we have won the race.”
Brouwer was also quick to point out that being the first woman to win the race was irrelevant, saying, “My goal was to win the race and to be the first woman to do it is great, but I would really like to thank the team — they were behind us all the way — the shore team and the logistics team while our sailors on the boat pulled it off together.”
Dongfeng finished the final leg ahead of Mapfre, which also had Melbourner Sophie Ciszek as one of the sailors. Ciszek was teamed with Brouwer in an all-female crew attempt in the last round the world race.
Both women are anticipated to be in December’s Sydney to Hobart.