Carrie Howe is not only the only woman in Green Comm Racing, she is also the only woman sailor taking part in the 34th America's Cup. Right after the first day of sailing, Carrie talks about her impressions, her aspirations and advice to young sailor girls.
You are the only woman sailor in the 34th America's Cup. How do you feel about that?
I feel fantastic and I think it's an incredible honor as a woman to be asked to join a men's team. It makes you realize what women can do, it's just a question of getting an opportunity. I am capable of sailing these boats, I know how they work, I know all the little tricks and I think I can be valuable. I don't know what will happen at the end but it truly is an honor.
AC45 yachts are very tough and physical. Green Comm Racing has onboard the world's best Laser and Finn sailors, some of the strongest and fittest sailors. Do you think a woman could have a full-time place in an AC45 sailing crew?
I think the answer to that question comes in two parts. First of all, physically, there are positions for a woman on the boat. There aren't that many women sailors that are that fit and with the adequate weight for that boat. That's why you don't see many women in the catamaran world. However, fitness-wise a woman can do it. The second part of the question is that there are also people important on the team that are better with the finesse and multi-tasking abilities women have. The sailors might be strong and fit guys but someone has to have them going into the right direction and that's another important aspect of the program.
specifically, during the team's first ever sail on the AC45 yacht what position did you hold?
I had the opportunity to look and learn, to see what I can do in the boat, what I am capable of. I was, obviously, not chosen for being a big and strong person but as a very small person to fit the weight requirements. I am a very small person but also a very strong girl. My position in that first sail was to watch and I think there are three things I can do onboard the yacht.
Firstly, I could steer and I have already done on catamarans and Extreme 40's. The second thing I saw I could do was trimming the wing, although I didn't see 25 knots of wind. The third part is that you have a full-time grinder for you and you can tell the other people to do more compared to if I were a man.
It was an incredible day. There are a lot of little things that we all have to get used to and I was really impressed by how fast people learned. Our team has lots of very smart people, very successful sailors, many of them being Olympic champions and they all watched and learned with an incredible pace.
One easy way to put it is that when we launched the boat in the morning we were in the first day of school and when the day was over...
you had graduated from Harvard...
I wouldn't say that we graduated from Harvard but we learned so much. In the morning it was 'Oh boy, what are we in?' and in the afternoon we were pushing the boat to 25 knots of speed.
a young girl watches you on TV or reads about you and aspires to be a world-level professional sailor what would your advice be?
My advice would be to always learn as much as she can and grab every opportunity she can. I've had a lot of opportunities and now I have a lot of knowledge and that puts me in a condition to be able to control what we are doing and plan this big project with many people involved. The message is that girls can have power too, make important decisions and use their brain power to make things happen.
the team decides you will not be racing here in Cascais will that disappoint you?
No, not at all. Sailing is a team sport and within a team there are many people with different skills and we have to use them to our best ability. If the team decided my job is to organize things and keep everyone in the same direction I will be equally happy. Of course I would love to race but playing on the boat is fun as well.