by Jessica Gray
Interest from an all-women’s team in taking part in the RC44 Championship Tour has meant a rule change on crew weights to allow competitive all women teams to join the class for the 2013 season.
Caroline Heerema and Ekaterina Zhilina
At the final event of the season in Croatia the RC44 owners agreed that an all women crew can have an increased all up crew weight of 740kg, 60kg more than a mixed or all male crew.
There is no crew number limit in the class, but any all-women’s team will need to sail with a minimum of three amateur sailors, including the boat owner.
Adris RC44 World Championships 2012 - Women Only Sailing Team
The change in rule was an important step for the Women’s Only Sailing Team campaign led by Danish sailor Caroline Heerema and Russian marketer Ekaterina Zhilina. Caroline is an experienced sailor having competed on a number of dinghy and keelboat campaigns, and is no stranger to the RC44 class having guest helmed her father’s RC44 No Way Back on various occasions throughout the 2012 season.
The Women Only Sailing Team plan to train and undertake a series of team selections throughout the winter months in Puerto Calero, Lanzarote, with Team Manager Ekaterina Zhilina is currently working hard to secure funding with the aim of joining the 2013 Championship Tour at the second event of the season in Sicily.
With the prospect of leading the first ever all female crew to compete in the RC44 Championship Tour, Caroline is looking forward to the challenge ahead. 'I love the action and excitement of sailing. I really like challenging projects and doing something out of the ordinary, this project definitely fits that description.'
The 2013 RC44 Championship Tour will visit a new venue for its first event of the 2013 season. The Wave, Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman will host the season’s opener starting on the 30th January 2013. The racing format remaining the same; one day of match racing when the professionals or owners can take the wheel followed by four days of fleet racing with only the owners or an amateur allowed at the helm.
Ekaterina Zhilina and Caroline Heerema
For more information on the Women’s Only Sailing Team, click here.