British sailors Emma Richards and Miranda Merron sign up with women’s team Amer Sports Too. Emma (27) will be a trimmer/helmsman while Miranda (32) is taking over the navigator’s duties from Genevieve White.
Miranda brings a wealth of offshore experience to this campaign. She is an accomplished all-rounder, bringing critical skills as the campaign prepares for leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race. She takes on the role of navigator. Miranda has offshore yachtmaster qualifications and an MA in Japanese from Cambridge University.
Emma, is also British and is an accomplished dinghy sailor who has successfully 'migrated' to keel boats and multihulls. She joins Amer Sports Too for the fourth leg as a helmsman/trimmer.
These two British sailors have many ocean racing miles behind them, racing 26,000 nautical miles together.
Skipper Lisa McDonald says, "Both women have impressive sailing CVs and will get quickly into the team environment and we will see some good performances from them. They bring invaluable offshore big boat experience and so it will be fantastic to have them onboard."
"The team came together in the eleventh hour really and so we never had a proper opportunity to run crew trials. We managed to pull together a strong team right from the start, however we are still working on getting the best group of people. Over time you learn how a group of people operates and each person's habits. We're looking to get the right combination of people for the optimum performance."
"There are still six legs to go, 70 per cent of the points, and I'm optimistic that we will get up there. The team as a whole is doing a fantastic job and we are all on such a steep learning curve. No doubt some of the men's teams will have already peaked, or at least are only slowly learning things; we think we are improving all the time. We have a long way to go, but I'm confident that we will be among the fleet by the time we reach the Atlantic."
The pressure is certainly on Emma and Miranda, stepping straight into the Southern Ocean from Auckland on an unfamiliar yacht and with a crew they have not sailed with as a unit, but not surprisingly they are looking upon it as a challenge.
Emma says, "This is one form of ocean racing I haven't yet really touched. We will get some training in before we leave Auckland on January 27th. After a couple of years in shorthanded sailing, I am really looking forward to sailing with a full crew. I'm coming onboard as a trimmer and helmsman and what I love most is heavy air downwind steering so I can't wait to get going with the next leg through the Southern Ocean."
Miranda is aware of the demands stepping onboard three stages into the race bring; "There's a lot of pressure and expectation for us. What makes it harder is that I couldn't possibly hope or dream of having the same level of experience as the other navigators in the race. So I would say that I am mildly apprehensive at the moment. There's definitely a fair amount of pressure now as we are coming in to replace particular positions. Recently I've been used to shorthanded racing, so this fully crewed event is going to be a little different to start with."
Both women recently sailed the Atlantic Ocean from France to Brazil in the Transat Jacques Vabres, Emma on a 60ft trimaran and Miranda on an Open 60. In 1988 they sailed together on Royal and Sun Alliance in the all-women attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy, a non-stop round-the-world record attempt.