The Magenta Project x IMOCA60 Canada Ocean Racing Team • Live Sail Die

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September 26, 2022 – Sailing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete equally, but they are generally not equally represented on board. International charity The Magenta Project and Team Canada Ocean Racing have teamed up to attract more women to ocean racing boats, starting with an exclusive sailing and networking event in Toronto on Monday, September 26.

The “Magenta” event started the day before with a private boat trip, technical briefing, splicing lesson and networking with the team – these ladies mean business! At 09:00 on Monday morning, the group boarded the race boat Canada Ocean Racing IMOCA60 and were able to “learn the ropes” with solo offshore racing icon Alex Thomson and the Canadian team while sailing around Toronto Harbour.

A shared vision
The group shared lunch and a good chat with Alex and new Canadian skipper Scott Shawyer, whose mission is to sail the Vendée Globe solo around the world – a goal shared by some of the women as well. It’s good to have friendly competition! The afternoon sessions were land-based, skill-building focused with weather presentations by Chelsea US Sailing Team meteorologist Carlson Freas, as well as media/sponsorship discussions and equipment by other women in the industry.

In the world of sailing, an opportunity to take a spin on an IMOCA60 racing boat and sail with one of the sport’s legends is something you would fly for. Female sailors from across Canada and the United States participated in this special Magenta experience which aims to provide development and support to women in ocean racing, especially in this region.

Most professional female ocean racers come from Europe, as this is traditionally where the most opportunities in the sport have been found. Canada Ocean Racing’s new team wants to help develop homegrown female and youth talent and inspire the next generation through initiatives like its partnership with The Magenta Project.

“With two daughters of mine, I would never want my kids to feel like they can’t compete in a sport just because of their gender. Traditionally, sailing has been a male-dominated sport and our team wants to make sure we provide plenty of opportunities to change that narrative,” said Scott Shawyer, President and Skipper of Canada Ocean Racing. “Project Magenta is considered a world-class leader in gender, equity and inclusion in sailing, and we are extremely proud to work with their team.”

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Founded by members of Team SCA, an all-female crew who competed in the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race, The Magenta Project strives to develop a more equitable and inclusive sailing industry. The international network includes Olympians and world record holders, who support emerging talent through their annual mentorship program, clinics, events and partnerships with leagues and teams such as Canada Ocean Racing.

“I have been lucky to have led and been part of very united mixed teams, but I recognize that not all women have been so lucky. Project Magenta is grateful to be working with Canada Ocean Racing to provide talented women with the opportunity to train and work alongside men at a high level,” said Meg Reilly, Head of Coordination and Engagement for the Magenta project. Meg and her partner, Morgen Watson – Boat Captain for Canada Ocean Racing, have run co-ed and youth offshore training programs together since forming their Ocean Racers team in 2015; she is now developing similar programs for The Magenta Project.

It takes a village
The Magenta Project relies on its network of individuals, teams and organizations to help women get more equally involved in sailing at all levels. Theresa Riedl, Magenta Mentee 2020 and Mustang Survival Marketing Team Member, was on board for Magenta Day and is happy to support other women in the industry.

“Mustang Survival is thrilled to support this event which focuses on the development of Canadian offshore sailing as well as women in offshore sailing,” said Theresa Riedl, Partnerships and Event Marketing Specialist at Mustang Survival. “As a former Project Magenta mentee, it’s great to have such a great event here in Canada. It’s an inspiring time for Canadian sailing.

A single day on the water can have the impact of a lifetime. Magenta’s crew come away with new skills, tremendous experience and a greater network of connections to further their sailing careers. For Erica Lush, Magenta Mentee 2020, she will continue to sail with the team as the new official crew member of Canada Ocean Racing. The hope is that this event will inspire many more future “Ericas”, and we will see many more of these women on the water.

“I am honored and thrilled to join the Canada Ocean Racing team as a crew member. This feels like a game-changing opportunity in my career, and I owe much of that achievement to my 2020 participation in the Magenta Project Mentorship Program,” Erica shared.

“Dreaming big may seem crazy in a sport dominated by men, but my mentor Sharon Ferris-Choat (Toronto-born Olympian) helped me put that feeling aside and think about what really excites me about this sport. By breaking down massive goals into bite-sized accomplishments, the impossible began to feel less like a cliff and more like a ladder. I can’t wait to step up to this new level.

Support more equity and inclusion in sailing at all levels with The Magenta Project. Follow @themagentaproj on social media and learn more on the website theagentaproject.org/support_us/. Follow the Canada Ocean Racing team @canada_ocean_racing.

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