Les Goodridge, owner and skipper of Wax Lyrical – a Danish design X 50 cruiser/racer – and a longtime member of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s (CYCA), shares his passion of sailing and racing the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race with a crew where women and men are in balance.
“Do I try really hard to have girls? A little bit, maybe… but for me, it happens quite naturally – I have always had girls in my crew,” Goodridge says.
Thirty or 40 years ago, when the Sydney sailor started ocean racing, there were not any girls on the crews he sailed on.
“This was very rare… I guess it was about tradition – this is what boys do, this is what girls do,” he states. “But with time, more girls got interested in sailing, and men came to realise that lots of elements of sailing are not just big stuff. Navigation was more a question of timing, doing the right thing at the right moment: It doesn’t take a lot of strength. It takes precision, making a boat go faster.”
So are the women on Goodridge’s crew his angels (like Charlie’s Angels) – are they a key success for Wax Lyrical?
“Women are often more resilient. They may not be as strong, but they are very tough,” CYCA member Goodridge says.
One memorable episode says it all: “During one night, we were experiencing very, very bad conditions. The later it got, the rougher it became. There was a particular tough moment… The boys were sick, they were on the floor of the boat, throwing up, calling for their mothers, while the girls were tough, on deck, racing the boat through the night,” Wax Lyrical’s owner/skipper says. “Sometimes it’s about the right person in the right place, and definitely not always a guy, but often a woman.”
Dinah (Eagle) and Jules (Julia Owens) have participated in the Sydney Hobart 10 and five times respectively,” Goodridge reflects.
“There were four of us; three women and Les, who were able to keep the boat racing,” Eagle remembers.
According to Goodridge, women are more thoughtful. Rather than just using muscle, they think about doing things in such a way they don’t injure themselves.
Eagle, who is the second in command on Wax Lyrical says, “From the female perspective, we have the same passion. Sometimes we are not as strong, and that’s fine, because we’re doing things in a different way.
“For me, in terms of crew dynamic, females communicate better, which makes the crew works better.”
But of course, it’s not black and white, and it is not about competition between men and women.
Goodridge says, “It helps when you’ve got mixed crew – you benefit from the advantages and differences of the two genders.”
Eagle responds: “In light weather, women remain more focused for a longer time, whereas guys can easily get bored because nothing’s happening. But when the wind comes in, the guys say, ‘Give it to me (the helm), give it to me’.”
Another focus aboard Wax Lyrical is to give young people their first experience offshore.
“We have a Youth Sailing Academy at the CYCA, which is a really good one. And it’s a key part of what we want to do; offer young sailors the opportunity of their first experience in the Sydney Hobart,” past CYCA board member Goodridge says.
“They definitely bring a new excitement and fresh view on board, because this is their first time,” Eagle adds.
“We’re friends – we like the challenge of the race and to race hard – but we’re not experts, not professionals. We’re amateurs, Corinthians, and we love it! Each race is a new challenge to improve our performance – our cooperation as a team – to have fun and find the best path through the conditions,” she ends.
Together, the Wax Lyrical crew represents the true spirit of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: diversity, passion, fun, competition and resilience.
The Boxing Day start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be broadcast live on the Seven Network via 7Mate throughout Australia.
For full list of entries and all information: http://rolexsydneyhobart.com/
By CLOTILDE ROHART, RSHYR media