30 Sep 2016

NZ Olympian to skipper all-female crew

8:38 am on 30 September 2016

New Zealand Olympian Sharon Ferris-Choat will skipper the first all-female team to compete in the Extreme Sailing Series when they take to the water in Lisbon next week.

Catamarans racing in the Extreme Sailing Series 2016.

Catamarans racing in the Extreme Sailing Series 2016. Photo: Photosport

The Thalassa Magenta Racing crew will race with six members on the Canadian-flagged catamaran, as opposed to five on the all-male boats.

Ferris-Choat - who competed at the 1996 and 2004 Olympics - is joined in the wider 10-woman team by fellow New Zealander Gemma Jones, who placed fourth at this year's Rio Games with Jason Saunders in the Nacra 17 event.

Experienced sailors from Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands and Switzerland make up the rest of the team.

They're one of nine teams who will compete in the GC32 event raced off the coast of Portugal from October 6-9.

Ferris-Choat is the only women currently racing on board a GC32 and said she's delighted to be racing in the Extreme Sailing Series.

"To be part of the Extreme Sailing Series has been a goal of mine for ten years," she said.

"It is the Formula One of sailing. With successful corporate exposure and VIP hosting, it offers high return to team partners and is very exciting sailing for the sailors.

"We aim to put a competitive team together for the 2017 Series and Lisbon is the start of the adventure."

For the rest of the fleet, Lisbon could be a make-or-break with only two events left this season and the leaderboard closer than ever.

A spectacular win for Alinghi less than a week ago in Madeira saw the Swiss team narrow the gap in the overall rankings to Oman Air to just three points, while second place for Red Bull Sailing Team has put them well within reach of their first ever Series win, currently two points behind Alinghi.