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115 islands with one goal: Seychelles shapes a pathway for female sailors

June 28 2023 - News Release News Editorial

The Seychelles may be made up of 115 islands, but the nation has united behind sailing, female empowerment, and conservation, all while sharing the achievements of successful Seychellois women and raising funds for charity.

115 islands with one goal: Seychelles shapes a pathway for female sailors

To mark World Oceans Day, held on 8 June, the Seychelles Yachting Association and Fanm Seselwa, a volunteer group comprising prominent Seychellois women including conservationist Isabelle Ravinia, former ILCA sailor and windsurfer Chantal Hoffman, Cindy Moka from the University of Seychelles and leading journalist Rita Joubert-Lawen, launched ‘Around Seychelles in 18 Bays’.

Also joining the organising committee were Marie-Jeanne Paton, a Captain with the local inter-island ferry, Cat Cocos, and skippers Maryse Marie, Danielle Bamboche and Ania Marengo.

An all-female crew sailed around the islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue in a catamaran, covering 18 bays in one day. The catamaran was under the stewardship of female captain.

Marie-Jeanne skippered the crew. She was joined by Wilna Accouche, a conservationist committed to protecting native biodiversity in Seychelles, Dillys Pouponeau, a young Seychellois scientist at the Save Our Seas Foundation ‒ D’Arros Research Centre, and Nella Victor, a fisherwoman, small business owner and conservationist.

Betty Alcindor, Secretary of the Seychelles Yachting Association, said, “Around Seychelles in 18 bays stemmed from an idea to promote the conservation of the environment in Seychelles. The bays were selected around the most populous islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue to highlight the need to protect the marine environment. Sailing offers the chance to showcase the capability of Seychellois women at sea in different settings and bring awareness on the protection and conservation of the marine environment whilst also raising funds for a charity, Liam’s Rainbow Foundation. The next step for the group is to officially register as an association and continue to raise funds for charities across the Seychelles.”

The journey was televised live and highlighted the talents of influential and talented Seychellois women with interviews highlighting the women who have taken up a marine-related profession and serve as an inspiration to other young Seychellois girls.

As well as raising awareness of conservation action and the potential for women in sailing, Around Seychelles in 18 Bays also raised funds for Liam’s Rainbow Foundation, a children’s charity that offers emotional support to children undergoing medical treatment, help them live their life one day at a time and live life to the fullest.

More information about ‘Around Seychelles in 18 Bays’ can be found on their Facebook page.

World Sailing and the Seychelles Yachting Association have also committed to developing more opportunities within the sport by hosting a Level 1 Technical Course for Coaches on Mahé as part of World Sailing’s Steering the Course 2023.

There are currently no qualified female instructors or coaches in the Seychelles, but the introduction of qualified trainers will help to build the framework for female sailors to discover the sport and encourage positive change in the sport across the island nation.

The Technical Course for Coaches will create opportunities for female sailors to become certified coaches, learn practical sailing skills, water safety and boat handling, and teach the next generation of Seychellois women to sail.

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