Joan Mulloy – Irish Sailing Hero #firstirishwoman
What is your ultimate goal currently in your sailing career?
The 2020 Vendée Globe*.
Why have you chosen this as your goal?
For me this is the ultimate challenge for a solo sailor and a massive adventure for any human being!
What drives you?
My goals and the people around me.
What do you need to do / prove / achieve to achieve this?
I need sponsorship, a strong team and an unbending determination!
I also need solo event practice and will be entering the La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro** in 11 days – commencing 26th August 2018.
What support network do you have and what more do you need?
At the moment I have a great team working with me between Ireland and France. My technical team are currently preparing for La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro - this is the focus of the 2018 season for us.
To compete in the Vendee Globe Race I will need to ramp up my team to include more people to help me manage both the boat but also the sponsorship, logistics and media sides of the project.
Do you know how many other women have taken a similar path in their sailing career? Another other Irish women?
I know that seven women have completed the Vendée Globe, and there will be 5 women competing in the La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro this year. I am the first Irish woman to compete in La Solitaire and I would be the first Irish woman in the Vendée Globe, or indeed to race solo around the world.
Can you think of any particular barriers to a woman following a career in sailing? Or can you tell us what makes sailing more accessible for women than some other sports?
I think it can be harder for women to be selected for professional teams as they often lack the necessary experience, or the brawn required to make up for lack of experience. There begins a vicious circle where women fail to gain experience and thus don’t get selected. Things like the recently introduced rule in the Volvo Ocean Race that rewards teams that bring more women crew*** will help to break this cycle.
What advantages do you see double handed sailing brings to the skills and development of a sailor?
I started sailing in mirrors and lasers. I think double handed sailing improves your teamwork and communication very quickly, which is extremely important basis for life, not just sailing!
What type of sailing do you enjoy the most?
Fast sailing! Where I’m winning.
How does sailing in the open ocean solo make you feel physical and emotionally?
I love it! It can be a little intimidating but mainly I feel free. If it’s rough weather I am liable to feel seasick, but otherwise I really enjoy the feeling of being so surrounded by nature.
What is the first thing you start to crave when on a long offshore sail?
If I’m solo I would definitely start craving sleep the most! Otherwise just a non-moving bed or some fresh food would be nice.
What is the first thing you like to do for yourself (not the boat) when you reach dry land?
I usually talk - a lot! About the experiences I’ve just had. Then a shower, and bed.
Do you have a message you would like to give to the young sailors of Ireland?
Don’t underestimate yourself. There are many different pathways to the top, if you are passionate enough and you work hard enough you can get there. Also, do remember that to be at the top of your sport you need more than just one skill e.g. sailing! - make sure you develop other complementary skills like teamwork, sailmaking, marine electronics, navigation, media. There’s a lot more to it than just sailing! (Unless you’re Peter Burling****)
* The Vendée Globe is a single-handed non-stop yacht race around the world without assistance. Nicknamed “The Everest of the Seas” … https://www.vendeeglobe.org/en/
** La Solitaire Urgo Le Figaro is a solo, one design, without assistance timed coastal race, from 1500 to 2000 miles in 10 to 13 days … https://www.lasolitaire-urgo.com/en/
*** Volvo Ocean Race Crew combos designed to add flexibility for teams, and create a clearer pathway for female sailors to take part in the race … https://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/the-race/77_Crew-rules.html
**** Peter Burling MNZM is the 2017 America's Cup champion helmsman, and an Olympic gold and silver medallist. He was named as male World Sailor of the Year at the ISAF World Sailor of the Year Awards in 2017.
If you are inspired by Joan go to trysailing.ie to find out more on how you can get out on the water.