Turn the Tide on Plastic skipper Dee Caffari has admitted that she would jump at the chance to take part in the next edition of The Ocean Race.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Caffari – who became the first female to sail both ways around the planet, solo and non-stop before joining the toughest test of a team in sport – explained that the success of the Race’s groundbreaking sustainability campaign has inspired her to continue pushing for change in different areas of the sport.
“I would love to lead a team in the next edition of The Ocean Race and be able to continue spreading the sustainability message, as well as promoting gender equality,” she said.
Turn the Tide on Plastic featured a 50/50 split of male and female sailors, and the majority of the team had never been in the Southern Ocean ahead of the 2017-18 edition.
“As the first mixed gender youth team to take part, we were considered the underdog,” continues Dee. “Added to that the fact that our lead-in and training time was limited, the odds were definitely stacked against us. However, our performance steadily improved and some of the legs were incredibly tight.
“The success I am most proud of though is the message we took across the globe about the effects of single use plastic. That message really seemed to gain traction, and genuine and lasting change seems to be taking place within government and corporates, albeit slowly.”
Caffari believes that the success of The Ocean Race sustainability programme proves the power of sport as a platform for change – and wants to see sport events challenge each other even more in the future.
“We need to encourage organising authorities and sports events to demand change and create a tough environment for vendors, suppliers and partners if they want to be involved or associated with events,” she said.
“This will make sure the right example is being set and that messages reach the wide audience that sporting events attract.
“My advice is to be bold. The world’s population has entered into an era of the conscientious consumer who wants to do the right thing and support companies that are generating awareness or making the changes that are required.”
Since the end of the Race, Caffari has become Chair of the World Sailing Trust – a body set up by sailing’s governing body, World Sailing, in 2018. The Trust focuses on three closely-linked areas – marine health, access and youth pathways.
The World Sailing Trust has launched a global survey on women in sailing, looking at trends within the sport and wider industry around gender disparity.
The Strategic Review, which was announced on International Women’s Day in March, forms part of the Trust’s Access to sailing work and will provide recommendations and actions for partners across the globe looking to be part of this change.
“We want to understand more about women and girls in sailing: what attracts them, what puts them off, why they drop out, the perceived and real barriers to participation that they might face and how this varies across countries, ages, classes and competition and different elements of the sport – racing vs recreational vs officials,” added Caffari.
“To compliment this knowledge we also want to understand how women and girls’ participation could be increased and we strongly encourage the whole sailing and marine community to participate in the survey and tell their own story.”
The results of the survey will be combined with research into global best practice, to form a series of recommendations and a programme of work to support women and girls across all areas of the sport.
The initial findings will be presented to World Sailing’s stakeholders at the 2019 Annual Conference in Bermuda this October. Further insight will be delivered to the wider sailing and marine community at the Yacht Racing Forum in November.
To complete the survey, click here.