by Oliver Dewar
Global Ocean Race - The Anglo-German, all-female offshore racing team of Hannah Jenner and Anna-Maria Renken has secured the charter of Peter Harding’s 2009 Owen Clarke Design Class40, 40 Degrees, for the double-handed Global Ocean Race 2011-12 (GOR) starting from Palma, Mallorca, on 25 September this year. Jenner and Renken left the UK on Wednesday, flying to Guadeloupe to join the boat and will sail 40 Degrees double-handed to the Azores, completing their GOR qualifying voyage.
Anna-Maria Renken and Hannah Jenner secure a Class40 for the GOR - Global Ocean Race 2011-12
The duo first made contact last October when Jenner and Renken were planning individual GOR campaigns and the pair subsequently decided to collaborate, officially entering the race shortly before Christmas. Since then, the Anglo-German team have focused totally on the GOR. 'I can’t believe that in the next couple of days we will be sailing the Class40 we will race in the GOR,' said 30 year-old Hannah Jenner on the day before they flew to the Caribbean.
'This is a great start for us and after months of being chained to laptops and phones, we are very much looking forward to being out on the ocean and our campaign will be alive!' For Jenner’s 30 year-old, German co-skipper, there is relief that the campaign time line is on schedule: 'The last two days have been a crazy whirlwind of final arrangements,' confirmed Renken on Tuesday. 'Just five months ago we decided to do the GOR together and we put March in the diary as the month we needed to be sailing by,' she continued. 'It’s fantastic that we have achieved this deadline!'
Between them, the duo has sailed over 200,000 nautical miles including valuable ocean racing and shorthanded sailing experience. Jenner was the first female skipper in the Clipper Round the World Race and took her team to a podium finish, while Renken has moved to sailing from a windsurfing and semi-pro swimming background as one of the very few female sailors in the German offshore racing circuit. Renken skippered and trained a German team in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race and was the first German woman to participate in the extremely demanding, double-handed Watski Skagervak Two Star in Norway last year.
Once in Guadeloupe, Jenner and Renken will meet with GOR entry, Conrad Colman, and inspect 40 Degrees before test sailing with the New Zealand yachtsman. 'We expect to leave Guadeloupe after a week of preparation,' Jenner predicts. 'We’ll set sail with a signed letter from the Harbormaster verifying we’re sailing double-handed,' she continued. Following the 2,400 mile voyage to the Azores, a second letter from the local Harbormaster in Horta will confirm that 40 Degrees completed the voyage with two crew, while chartplotter data will authenticate that no stops were made en route.
During the qualifying voyage, Jenner and Renken will focus on practicing their media skills. 'We’ll send blogs, images and video direct from the boat to our shore based team in England and Germany,' Renken explained. In a highly creative initiative, the duo is inviting members of the media to join 40 Degrees in the Azores and complete the transatlantic crossing on board their Class40 (media inquiry contact details below).
Their Class40 already has a formidable racing pedigree: launched at Jaz Marine, Cape Town, in September 2009, the Owen Clarke Design Jaz40 MkII has had a full schedule of offshore racing including the double-handed, transatlantic 2009 La Solidaire du Chocolat raced by Peter Harding and GOR entry, Miranda Merron; the double-handed 2010 Normandy Channel Race when Harding was joined by Merron’s GOR co-skipper, Halvard Mabire; the 2010 RORC Caribbean 600 and most recently in the single-handed, transatlantic Route du Rhum skippered by GOR entry Conrad Colman.
Once in Europe, the GOR’s only all-female team are planning a busy, double-handed racing program before taking the boat to Palma, Mallorca, for the GOR pre-start build up. In May, Jenner and Renken will join three other GOR teams in the Class40 Normandy Channel Race fleet; in June, they will compete in the 540 mile BNY Mellon Biscay Challenge from the Solent to Spain with a return to the Azores the following month in the Les Sables - Horta - Les Sables Race.
Josh Hall, Race Director of the GOR, is deeply impressed with the team’s momentum and drive: 'Hannah and Anna continue to take huge strides towards the GOR start line since they joined forces as the only all-female entry in the race,' he comments. 'They have now secured a fabulous, fast and strong boat for their burgeoning campaign and we are greatly looking forward to following their extensive training program. Bravo girls!'