The CEO of Switzerland SailGP Team has opened up about the team’s decision to select five women to race alongside the core team in Season 3.
Combining competitive racing backgrounds, with both Olympic and foiling experience, sisters Elodie and Lauren Mettraux, Maja Siegenthaler, Maud Janet and Nathalie Brugger were chosen to join the team following a training camp in Lagos, Portugal.
Speaking about the selection, which was made as part of SailGP’s Women’s Pathway Program, Switzerland SailGP CEO Tanguy Cariou said the team initially planned to select three women but was so impressed with the calibre of athletes that they increased the number to five.
“We knew that we have big female potential in Switzerland and I think having five women in the process is great for us - we want to keep the female group quite open to develop their skills and ability on the boat.”
Interest in the program was high, with a total of 20 female athletes responding to the initial call out. This number was shortlisted to eight athletes and was slimmed down again at interview stage to five.
All five were then invited to the training camp in Lagos where they began sailing on board a GC32 hydrofoiling catamaran with the core male team. The original intention was to knock the five female athletes down to three but after watching them in action, Cariou and the team changed their minds.
“The women sailed one by one with the men and it was a great surprise for everyone having them on board. They were efficient and competitive and were pushing hard both onshore and in sailing,” Cariou said.
When it came to the selection criteria, Cariou said he was looking for a range of different profiles across the female recruits.
“We didn’t want to have the same profile across all five,” he said. “We wanted someone physical with a grinder profile, we wanted someone tactical and strategic and we wanted someone with foiling skills - those were the three profiles we were looking for.”
This is reflected across the five successful female athletes - Elodie Mettraux has competed in two editions of the Ocean Race while Janet is an Olympian in the Laser Radial class and competed at Tokyo 2020. Brugger meanwhile is a three time Olympian having competed at Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 while Laurane Mettraux has competed in the Sailing Arabia The Tour and Tour de France à la Voile six times. Finally, Siegenthaler is a two-time Olympian in the 470 class.
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Cariou is working out a ‘matrix’ that will see all five women train and race in Season 3. Laurane Mettraux was initially scheduled to kick-off the season in Bermuda, but after suffering an injury to her hand during training will instead assist from the shore while her sister Elodie will race. Laurane, Maja, Nathalie and Maude are all set to race alongside the crew throughout the first half of the season.
“Six months ago we needed a female athlete on board,” reflects Cariou, “now we have five and we’re super happy and getting them integrated into the final crew.”