The Volvo Ocean Race will feature an all-female team for the first time since 2001-02 after Swedish global hygiene and forest company SCA announced they would enter a women’s crew for the next edition in 2014-15.

The team are the first to announce an entry for the 12th edition of the race, starting from Alicante in Spain in the second half of 2014.

The all-female challengers are the first team to confirm an order for the new 65-foot one-design boat, details of which were announced by the race earlier this year in June. The new high-performance boat will make it significantly cheaper for teams to mount a competitive campaign. The Volvo Ocean Race will ensure a minimum of eight boats are built, with the goal of getting between eight and 10 teams on the start line for the 12th edition of the race.

The new design puts less of a premium on physical strength, and means all-female teams should be competitive in the race, which is one of sailing’s Big Three events along with the America’s Cup and the Olympics.

“I’m very pleased to see a women’s team back in the race,” said Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad. “The lack of women in the last few editions of the race has meant we haven’t been representing half the population of the human race.

Richard Brisius, who competed in two editions of sailing’s toughest challenge and who will manage the team for Atlant Ocean Racing said: “SCA’s investment in an all-female crew is unique. Competing for nine months in the world’s toughest offshore sailing race is a challenge that deserves respect.”

Some facts about women in VOR:

  • The last time an all-female team competed in the race was in 2001-02, when Lisa   Charles (now Lisa McDonald) skippered Amer Sports Too.
  • The first all-female team to compete were Maiden, skippered by Tracy Edwards, back in 1989-90.
  • The last woman sailor in the race was Adrienne Cahalan, who was navigator on Brasil 1 for a single leg in 2005-06.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race