SIMPSON BAY—FOPE fine Italian jewelry is sponsoring a local all-women team for the 2nd Annual Caribbean Multihull Challenge (CMC) that gets under way February 14-16.
As the regatta’s Marketing Director and go-to guy Steve Burzon explains, the girls are eager to get out on the course and break the mould of the traditional mixed bag of racing teams.
“I suggested a few months ago to the crew at Ballerina Fine Jewelers, our partner with Oris Swiss Watch, that we would like to feature a women’s sailing team and they promptly suggested FOPE Italian fine Jewelry,” related Burzon.
“FOPE is a high-end jewelry company and they sell through Ballerina. We did the Oris Watch programme with Ballerina last year and it was very successful. Oris has since signed a three-year contract with CMC and the Heineken Regatta. FOPE stepped up with a significant cash sponsorship and we were off. We are all good partners.”
According to Burzon, FOPE is keen to promote its line of luxury active wear jewelry, which features stretch material rather than clasps and can be worn for swimming, sailing and other sports and won’t fall off.
FOPE is also sending down its Executive Vice-President for world-wide sales who may be on board with the women’s team as an observer for part of the regatta.
The proposal was pitched to Budget Marine’s Purchasing and Product Analyst Stephane Ferron who immediately jumped at the idea and recruited eight female sailors. Chairman of the Steering Committee Petro Jonker and his wife offered the girls the use of their Leopard 47ft cat Seduction for the regatta. The team have FOPE-sponsored long sleeve shirts and caps to wear.
The diverse crew comprises Stephane Ferron (skipper/St. Maarten), Jordan Pieterse (Germany), Petra Pupping (Netherlands), Anne Simiele (USA), Katy “Caterina” Rota (UK/Italy), Melody Rouveure (French St. Martin), Mirte Coppelmans (Netherlands), Nelly Bazanté (France), and Mary Wrigley (UK/St. Maarten). All crew members live on the island, the youngest being 14 and the oldest 64.
The team has been out for practice sessions as they had not all sailed together before and that has gone very well, noted Ferron. Their main competition will be with Ian Martin’s Leopard 45, Spellbound.
“I’m super happy that we’ve got this team together because there are not many female sailors out there in a mostly male-dominated sport,” she said. “It’s a great way to promote women in sailing. Women are not recognized enough for their potential on board because of the emphasis on strength. But we found that everything went so well between us and everything was communicated beforehand and we had strength too. It was good to realise that.
“There have been all women’s team in the past but not for a few years so it’s good to pick that up again. By the end of this regatta I’m sure there’ll be a surge of confidence as the crew realise they are all great sailors,” she added.
Currently there are 20 entries in five classes for the regatta, up from 14 for the first edition. They include for the first time the two high profile cutting-edge MOD 70 trimarans, Maserati and Argo. A course will be set around St. Maarten and St. Barths for these two extreme machines to establish a speed record. The 50ft class has another head turner, the radical looking trimaran Finn along with Addictive Sailing, a 53ft fast lightweight cruising cat that will have a local crew on board skippered by Petro Jonker.