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Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 – Six women at the start

by Veronique Largeau on 29 Aug 2011
Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 La Charente-Maritime /Bahia Transat 6.50 http://transat650.org
Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 starts on Sunday 25th September 2011 at 05:17 pm and will head to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil via Funchal, Madeira / Portugal.

This transatlantic (former Mini Transat) is single-handed, without routing or contact with the earth and without assistance. 80 sailors from 16 countries will leave for a 4200 nautical miles voyage (7800 km) on 21-foot sailboats. It is starter for all the best sailors: Michel Desjoyeaux, Ellen MacArthur, Loïck and Bruno Peyron, Laurent Yvan Bourgnon, Bernard Stamm, Lionel Lemonchois, Thomas Coville, Isabelle Autissier, Catherine Chabaud, Samantha Davies...

There will be six to set sail for the 18th Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50. Six women out of 80 sailors! Thus, it shows a reality. The very small representativeness of women in offshore sailing race’s World. Yet, the most famous women have participated in the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 such as Isabelle Autissier, Ellen MacArthur, Catherine Chabaud, Samantha Davies, etc. They all have great souvenirs from this transatlantic that was, for each of them, a revelation, a 'propeller'…

'This race made me crazy, a complete revelation. The arrival to Canary Islands, at the end of the day, was magic, even though I was exhausted after 43 hours at the helm. At the start, I was not a professional sailor… At the end I had become one…' states Isabelle Autissier, third in 1987.

Samantha Davies, 11th in 2001: 'This is a very difficult race but it is awesome. Very difficult, because it was my first single-handed race, I suffered much… But the reward when you reach Salvador de Bahia is immense. This is one of my best memories. What really made a deep impression for me; it is the atmosphere and the spirit of this race. Even if you’re a foreigner, everyone helps you and everyone supports everyone. We all share the same wish and the same motivation… I really appreciated.'

Ellen MacArthur, 15th in 1997: 'It gave me taste for open sea. I will never forget it!'


One extreme race for extraordinary women
Six women from 27 to 40 years old will face the Ocean from the 25th September. Two French, one Spanish, one Italian, one Dutch, one Briton and one American.

Marie Duvignac, Visit Var n° 660, 32 years old lives in Toulon, 'Rédacteur territorial'. Marie is not a woman we can call a fresher; twice World Champion, once Vice-Champion and four times European Champion in catamaran (Hobie cat and Melges), she says: 'I was fed up. I wanted to see what’s after other than the buoys…' In 2009, she bought her first Mini and successfully started her own adventure (third in the Grand Prix d’Italie, fourth in the Mini Max and the Hexis Cup). Now, it’s time for the big adventure: 'I am looking for adventure, to learn and to discover… To see the Doldrums and to know how I will react throughout three weeks of solitude. Not to feel lonely, I name everything on my boats, the sails, the pilots… and I talk to them. Of course, I want to have a part in the race but I have no exact idea about a possible ranking.'

Fabienne Robin, Plume d’Ange n° 708, 33 years old, lives in Château d’Olonne, sailor. She was an accountant; it did not last once she had a foot on a Mini 6.50… 'I had already sailed a little when a member of the sail club next to my place called me. He was looking for a crew member - I went there, just to see. That was 'love at first sight'. I really did not plan this professional U-turn.' In 2007, she passed her professional skipper graduation and bought a boat in 2008. Soon on the start line, she tells: 'First, it will be a very long adventure, but as it is also a race, I will do my best.'

Suzanne Beyer, Penelope n° 745, 33 years old, lives in Zoagli in Italy, skipper. In 2008, she decided that it was time for her to 'live her dream', that means to take part to the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50. Suzanne bought a Pogo 2 named Pénélope. Suzanne is, since 2005, patron of a 1914 ketch named Tirréna II, a quadrangular sail yacht classic. And she loves her with 'her ancient and complex manoeuvres and her crew members.' Suzanne also is founder of offshore regattas and she says: 'I want to live a great personal and professional adventure. An adventure that I would never imagine living a few years ago.'

Christa Ten Brinke, Ran of the North Sea n° 758, 40 years old, lives in Hilversum Pays Bas, Artist. Christa is an artist/sailor. Two passions that she conciliates very easily. And Christa won’t leave a life partner at home. They will be together at the start of the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50. Christa Ten Brinke and Ysbrand Endt will be the first couple ever to set sail on the same edition of the race. Wild spaces lover, Christa surfs and sails forever. Her objective: 'to cross the Atlantic and see Salvador de Bahia.'

Emma Creighton, Pocket Rocket n° 574, 27 years old lives in Freeport (USA), skipper. Emma’s parents sail and took her to sailing. She started competition at the University. Once she graduated, Emma moved from Maine (USA) to Saint-Barthélemy then to San Francisco where she devoted herself to sailing completely. In 2010, she took part in the Pacific Cup (SF/Hawaii) on a mini and came to France for the 2011 season to prepare the Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6,50. Emma has one objective: 'I do not participate only for the adventure even if it is part of it. I hope to be the first woman among the 20 first protos.'

Philippa Hare, The Potting Shed n° 743, 37 years old, lives in Felixstowe (GBR), Sailing Coach. Philippa, known by the name of Pip, is not a beginner and goes from race to race. She sailed over 80,000 nautical miles on every Ocean, she crossed the Atlantic twice from Uruguay to Great Britain and from England to The United States. In 2010 she bought her Mini, a Pogo 2, but she started sailing with her in the Mediterranean only in March 2011. In three months, she completed the compulsory qualifications and will line up on the start line in September: 'In the end, my dream will come Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6.50 website

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