Please select your home edition
Edition
BIA 2016 Sydney Boat Show 728x90

Volvo Ocean Race- Forget the f-word - Team SCA profiled

by Jonno Turner on 20 Aug 2014
Team SCA finishes at dawn off Cowes to beat the all female round Britain record. SCA skippered by Sam Davies, crossed the finish line of the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race off the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes at 06.10.39 BST on Satuday 16th August 2014 with an elapsed time of 4 days, 21 hours, 00 minutes and 39 seconds. Rick Tomlinson / Team SCA
'We used to go to the starts and finishes of the Whitbread Round the World Race, as it was then,' recalls Team SCA’s Sam Davies, with a smile.

'There wasn’t much media in those days, so once the boats left you didn’t really hear from them until they returned nine months later looking all tatty.'

Nine whole months. Three exhausting quarters of a year. Over 270 long, and arduous, days.


It is most famously the length of time during which a mother and child are as close as they will ever be. Joined, as one.

And from October this year, the same can be said of Mother Nature, and a child of the sea.

Team SCA’s Sam Davies is a mother, and she is most certainly a child of the sea - raised on the English south coast, with the waves at her feet and the wind at her sails.

'I remember when I was at school, sailing around the Solent with my mum and dad on a little boat,' she recalls.

As we chat at the team’s Gosport training base, just a wet pebble’s throw from the sandy beaches where Sam first sunk her feet, that same sea’s salty breath blows gently on the back of our necks.


'I remember watching this amazing race when I was just a tiny kid with these huge eyes. It really inspired me - the race itself made a big impact.'

Flash-forward three decades, and after some baby steps, Sam’s Swedish-backed team, born two and a half years ago, is finally ready to stand on its own two feet.

'We started the project early,' explains navigator Libby Greenhalgh, 'and the new one-design rule means that we’ve been able to focus on getting the right sailors, rather than designing the boat.'

Her teammate Abby Ehler, who competed in this race back in 2001-02 as part of Amer Sports Too has the benefit of previous experience on this stage.

'The new boat is definitely an opening for female sailors,' she adds. 'It levels the playing field. It’s all down to crew work now.'


Spending the day with these sailors, it quickly becomes clear that this is a tight-knit family unit – both literally, and figuratively.

Swiss pair Justine and Elodie-Jane Mettraux are sisters - but in truth, they all are.

Laughter peppers the air as the team relaxes in the English sun, and perhaps more than any other in this race, they are truly bonded – from seasoned round the world solo sailors, to young and enthusiastic rookies.

Team SCA harbours a mix of talent and experience – and Sam reckons that such a team dynamic is invaluable.

'Yes, it is everything,' she nods. 'We have the luxury of great preparation and support, but that also means that there’s a lot of expectation upon us.'

'We’ve all seen Big Brother, and we know how hard it is to co-exist in a tiny environment. It’s a challenge in itself, for a group of people to overcome these ups and downs – and there will be many of them as we go around the world.'

But the challenge of nine months of gruelling sailing, cramped onboard with minimal food and extreme weather conditions is not the only one on the horizon.

After all, Sam, Abby and their teammate Carolijn Brouwer are all mums, and there are many more wives, girlfriends, daughters and best friends amongst this 14-strong crew.

It’s fair to say, it's not easy balancing a life on land with the irresistible tug and pull of the ocean.

But more importantly, these are 13 sailors, and an Onboard Reporter, all with saltwater running through their veins – and losing a little bit of their home life is just another sacrifice they make to the sea.

'We’re living a selfish life,' admits Sam. 'I haven’t opened a bill, or emptied the rubbish, for months. Everything is focused around us, and the boat.'

'Sometimes, I feel guilty. When I go away, I almost forget that I have a family. I’m not saying that I don’t miss them, it’s hard to be away so much, but this thing is just so intense.'

Libby agrees that, sometimes, stepping off the boat, rather than on it, can be the toughest point.

'You go from spending so much time with certain people, and you step off – and you’ve got your friends and family, which is great – but they just want to ask you questions, and that’s really hard!'

For eighteen 18 months, twice as long as the race, the crew have toiled and trained in the bellowing winds of Lanzarote - an intensive infancy which has fortified this diverse and determined team.

And now, they’re empowered, excited, and most of all, ready, to get out on the oceans.

'I can't wait go round Cape Horn, that’ll be awesome,' Libby says. 'And getting over to New Zealand, because some of my friends moved out there a couple of years ago, and had a little girl who is named after me!'


'I’ve never met little Libby! They’ll be coming to meet me on the dock, it will be really cool!'

So there you have it. An honest, hard-working and highly motivated crew, desperate to take their chance, and make their mark on this incredible race.

Oh, and the crew is all-female. But forget the f-word. It doesn’t define this team.

‘Focused’, ‘prepared’, and ‘finely-tuned’ are just a few words that do.


And there’s one more, too. 'Adventurers,' says Sam. 'I think we’re one of the last adventurers on the planet – sailing around the world, driven by the wind.'

With a childlike enthusiasm, she pauses. 'It’s the race that makes me dream, not the all-female crew. To me, to be able to sail is just an incredible Volvo Ocean Team SCA website

BIA 2016 Sydney Boat Show 660x82Bakewell-White Yacht DesignBarz Optics - Melanin Lenses

Related Articles

America's Cup - Arbitration Panel Hearing over Kiwi Qualifier for July
ACEA CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. In a yet to be published interview in Sail-World, America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, Russell Coutts has confirmed that the Arbitration Panel will hold its first Hearing in July. This is the first official indication that the three person Arbitration Panel had even been formed, however Sail-World’s sources indicated that it had been empanelled since last January, possibly earlier.
Posted on 27 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 2
Yachting NZ's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is unprecedented Yachting New Zealand's refusal to nominate in three classes won in the first round of 2016 Olympic Qualification is without precedent. Subject to Appeal, the Kiwis have signaled that they will reject 30% of the positions gained in the ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander in 2014.
Posted on 22 May
Gladwell's Line - World Sailing changes tack after IOC windshift
Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick Over the past year, we've given the International Sailing Federation (now re-badged as World Sailing) a bit of stick. Every blow well earned over issues such as the pollution at Rio, the Israeli exclusion abomination plus a few more. But now World Sailing is getting it right.
Posted on 21 May
Rio 2016 - The Qualification Games - Part 1
Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving its goals Antipodean selection shenanigans aside, the Qualification system for the Rio Olympics appears to be achieving goals set in the Olympic Commission report of 2010. Around 64 countries are expected to be represented in Rio de Janeiro in August. That is a slight increase on Qingdao and Weymouth, but more importantly a full regional qualification system is now in place
Posted on 19 May
Taming the beast-a conversation with Stuart Meurer of Parker Hannifin
While AC72 cats were fast, they difficult to control, so Oracle partnered with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way. If you watched videos of the AC72s racing in the 34th America’s Cup (2013), you’re familiar with the mind-boggling speeds that are possible when wingsail-powered catamarans switch from displacement sailing to foiling mode. While foiling is fast, there’s no disguising the platform’s inherent instability. Now, Oracle Team USA has teamed up with Parker Hannifin to innovate a better way.
Posted on 18 May
From foiling Moths to Olympic starting lines-a Q&A with Bora Gulari
Bora Gulari’s is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class, along with teammate Louisa Chafee. Bora Gulari (USA) has made a strong name for himself within high-performance sailing circles, with wins at the 2009 and 2013 Moth Worlds. In between, he broke the 30-knort barrier and was the 2009 US SAILING Rolex Yachtsman of the Year. His latest challenge is representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the Nacra 17 class as skipper, along with his teammate Louisa Chafee.
Posted on 12 May
Concern for Zika at Rio Olympics is now deadly serious
Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, Alphabet soup is one description that has thus far not been used for either Guanabara Bay, or the Rio Olympics. Many others have, and they were apt, but things have changed. So here now we have a situation where one man, Associate Professor Amir Attaran, who does have a more than decent string of letters after his name, is bringing nearly as many facts to bear as references at the article's end
Posted on 12 May
The importance of being Alive
Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, Since buying the stunningly pretty Reichel-Pugh canting keel 66-footer, and re-naming her Alive, the team have lined up for a lot of things, won plenty and nabbed a record, as well. She’s presently in a yard in the Philippines having a minor refit in readiness for the Australian season. It will commence with the upcoming Brisbane to Keppel and then head sharply into this year’s Hobart.
Posted on 10 May
Hoisted on their own petard
Now it was not that long ago that we wondered if there were some genuinely Shakespearean elements beginning to appear... Now it was not that long ago that we wondered if there were some genuinely Shakespearean elements beginning to appear in World Sailing’s premier event, the Sailing World Cup. In that time, a flurry of material has espoused all manner of joyous points including travel grants and prize money. That’s terrific and the hope is that somehow this will overcome the tyranny of distance for Melbourne
Posted on 9 May
Zhik - The brand born of a notion, not its history
here is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline is officially marketed as Made For Water There is probably every reason that ocean rhymes with notion. Zhik’s tagline has been officially marketed as Made For Water, and this is precisely what the company has done for the last eight years before the succinct and apt strapline came from out of R&D and into mainstream visibility.
Posted on 8 May