Mar 22, 2011, 12:23 PM
Post #2 of 7
By David Barrow:
Re: [The Publisher] HELP WANTED: WOMEN NEED NOT APPLY
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Oh Dear Elaine seems to be off on one over the equality of the sexes. That could be the start of a reply from a sexist pig who was just against women getting into the sport.
Who knows the answer to the ever changing question of equality - going from getting the vote, to hopefully, in most civilised country's equal pay, to now equal rights on the water in the professional arena of yachting. I have always found that women learn quickly, try harder, are probably in most cases mentally stronger, and generally tone down the men's bum scratching and swearing as an added benefit. So do not think I am a detractor.
Let’s look at the word professional, at the top level the guys are good, very good, and they are fit, train hard, and use their muscle bulk to good effect. There lies the possible problem at that level... strength. It is the same in golf. Women have played in men's competitions at the top level and the only thing they are lacking is the strength to play off the men's tees. I am not sure if one of the few women that have played in top men's events have ever made the cut. This is not sexism; it is purely physiology. I really do not know how you counter that one.
So I guess at the top level of the sport for AC, TP52's, World match racing, etc. the strength issue could be a real problem.
Then we come to the next level of professional sailing, whatever that is; perhaps Elaine knows better than I. They travel the world at the owner’s expense and collect a daily rate. As you say it could possibly be a men's club, but what the entry fee is, and what the qualifications are, who knows? It is a culture that has grown since the 70's and early 80's when we were really happy with just getting a sail, and the only person who was paid was the paid hand who looked after the boat. Goodness knows what so-called professionalism has done to the cost of boat ownership or campaigning over the years. Yes, it is a predominately a men's club, but also I do not know many female owners, and boys will be boys, and in this case it just could be that owners just want a bit of time on their own with the boys.
There are also a few girl boats that do not allow boys on board.
Do you really see them, other than at the really high echelon, as professionals? I think they just like sailing and have found a way to get paid for it. It could be said that getting paid for something you like doing is a great way to go. It could also be said that getting paid for something means that you then have a duty to perform on the day, and that could take the shine off something you love. It also has a relatively short life span, and unless you are right at the top, the longer term financial future is uncertain to say the least, I suspect most women would rather have a proper job and enjoy their sailing; they have more sense than us lot.
Sailing is a hobby for nearly all of us and there are a relative few who are plying their trade as "professional".
The cream will rise to the top such as Ellen MacArthur, Dee Caffari, and Samantha Davies, in world class racing in the toughest events, which might counter my strength issue, a bit, but there has to be a reason for male dominance and in the main it is probably down to sheer physical strength.
Yes there are good women sailors out there and it is fantastic to see the invasion of women at the club and International racing level, and I for one certainly would love to see that continue as the sport would certainly be richer for it.
I came from the same club as Cathy Foster, the Olympic competitor in Los Angeles that won the last race, Caroline Martin Burton Cup winner, and Wendy Hilder top crew to many winners. All of these women were tough competitors that won great respect for what they did on the water; they would not expect or give any quarter and punched their weight in competition. I wonder what they would think of a forced equal opportunities environment. I believe they did think they were equal, as they won at a high competitive level, and beat all of the men in their country on a level playing field all on their own. At the same time, and off the water, they were all charming and feminine which was all the more interesting to see. They were treated and respected as equals both on and off the water. Over the years before they flew off to greater heights I was honoured to have any of them sailing on a boat at Frensham as I knew we would do well, and have a good laugh at the same time.
There are areas where women can thrive in sailing. And I guess that there are still glass ceilings to be broken but I suspect that will happen through sheer skill and determination as the year’s progress, rather than conjuring up a ‘them and us’ environment. Time will tell!