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Southern Spars - North Technology

Volvo Ocean Race - It's a family Affair

by Agathe Armand on 11 Apr 2014
It’s a family affair - Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 Rick Tomlinson / Team SCA
It’s September 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. Elodie-Jane and Justine Mettraux are exercising together – both sisters grew up sailing with their dad on the Leman Lake nearby before becoming professional sailors.

The first one manages the local sailing club. The second one competes in the Mini 6.50 circuit while trialing for Team SCA, the all-female crew for the Volvo Ocean Race.

'The coaches are still looking for some girls, you know,' Justine tells Elodie-Jane.

Six months later, both are confirmed crew members of the team, gearing up for the race starting in October.

'We have a stronger bond than the rest of the team,' says Justine, 'but we do try to behave normally onboard. We share the things we know, we speak about our experiences. It’s easy to talk about our feelings and our sensations. I can tell her things in confidence.'

Aged 27, Justine trained with SCA for a year while racing her Mini boat. She made it through the selection process in January. Elodie-Jane, 29, joined the trials shortly after her sister told her to send her resume. Late 2013, Justine took second in her Mini transatlantic race while Elodie-Jane quit her job and moved to SCA’s training base in Lanzarote. She officially joined the team mid-March.

Justine admits they sometimes 'speak French to each other simply because it’s quicker,' but she says it doesn’t change the way they sail. Elodie-Jane sees it as a positive, her sister having a lot more experience than her offshore and sharing some precious advice. The family bond only makes them stronger, it seems, and the two girls are genuinely happy to share an adventure.

'We lived in the same house for 22 years but we went our own ways these past years,' says Elodie-Jane. 'I’m delighted to spend some time with her again. I helped her getting ready for her transatlantic last fall – I cooked for her and worked on her boat. This new adventure will bring us even closer.'

Both sisters are quiet and reserved; they share the same blue eyes and discrete charisma. Both have a strong bond with their Swiss heritage – Elodie-Jane loves nothing like cheese and cured meat, Justine enjoys snowboarding and long walks in the snow.

Their entire family is behind them. Their parents have already visited them at the team base in Lanzarote and their siblings are planning to come to some of the stopovers.

'They are happy to see us doing what we love and to see us growing in this sport,' says Justine.

'I think my mom worries a bit when she sees Justine and I building arm muscles and doing this kind of stuff,' adds Elodie-Jane, 'but the others are fine with it. All of them are very happy for us, and very proud.'

There is another sister, a younger one, and a sailor too. Are we going to see a third Mettraux girl in the SCA crew?

'Oh, you’re speaking of Lolo,' laughs Elodie-Jane. 'She is over the moon about it but she keeps saying we are nuts to do this!'

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