Cat Hunt and Pamela Lee are hoping to set the first doublehanded Round Ireland record for an all-female crew. They should finish by the end of the week

Cat Hunt and Pamela Lee have started their attempt to set the first doublehanded Round Ireland record for an all-female crew.

The pair left Wicklow Sailing Club in the early hours of 13 October for the start line at Kish lighthouse before heading south for a clockwise circumnavigation.

They will be following the classic 700 nm route of the bi-annual Round Ireland Race, keeping Ireland and all its islands and rocks to starboard.

After rounding the Fastnet Rock, the sailors will be exposed to the Atlantic Ocean and its harsh weather conditions, all along the west coast.

Once around the northern tip of the island, they will have to contest with the strong tides around Ratlan, where the speed of the water can often exceed the speed of the boat in the opposite direction.

The final stretch involves navigating the fickle winds and tidal currents of the Irish Sea to the finish.

Cat and Pamela are sailing a Figaro Bénéteau III, Iarracht Maigeanta (Éire) during the attempt, which is being backed by The Magenta Project, a collective set up to support women at the highest level of sailing.

Continues below…

They wanted to set this record as an all-female crew, to demonstrate that women are not part of the shorthanded and fully crewed offshore sailing scene just because of a mixed crew requirement, with the likes of the Olympic and Ocean Race rules, but because they are strong, motivated sailors in their own right.

‘Shorthanded racing is a great discipline because it demands that each skipper is skilled in all aspects of offshore sailing – from navigation to helming and sail trimming,’ explained Pamela, who is skipper of the Irish RL Sailing Team.

‘It is fantastic for females to be involved in particular, because it offers opportunities to learn and take the lead onboard that are often harder for women to fulfil on a fully crewed boat, where roles are more compartmentalised,’ she added.

The two sailors are taking on the Round Ireland challenge with the hope of inspiring girls in Ireland and the UK to move into offshore sailing after graduating from dinghies, and to aspire to skippering large boats.

‘There is talent, enthusiasm and potential among young, female sailors in Ireland and the UK, but often a lack of awareness about the avenues for participation for women,’ said Cat, who placed 2nd in the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race with an under 30 team, and hopes to be the next female British sailor to compete in the offshore Solitaire du Figaro.

‘We hope our record attempt will help to break down some of the stereotypes, related to accessibility and male dominance, and will generate excitement – encouraging other girls to get out and try to break the record we set!’

The Round Ireland record attempt is expected to take them five days and nights.

Cat and Pamela will run a two-hour on watch rotation, and will also work together as a team on deck whenever manoeuvres such as sail changes are required.

You can follow their progress on the Magenta Project’s Facebook page.