We met Anke Scheuermann for an interview at the Gaastra flagship store in Hamburg’s HafenCity. The Aachen-born woman is a passionate sailor since 1984 and the store manager of the Gaastra flagship store in the Hafencity for almost two years. We talked about her brand new women’s sailing team HOTQUITO and their goals for the International German Championship as part of the “Kieler Woche 2016”. Last but not least she explained why sailing seems to be such a male-dominated sport.
What’s the story behind the HOTQUITO project?
I knew the sailing scene ever since I was a kid and sailed my first regatta when I was six years old. I started with the smaller sailing classes like Optimist, 420 and 470 to the larger boats up to 25 feet and finally I ended up with an X-99. Six years ago, I followed the beginning of the Tutima Crew (First Women’s Crew in the sea sailing) close by. We became friends over the years but somehow I always wanted to start my own team. I found an investor last year at the Kieler Woche. He was thrilled by the Volvo Ocean Race and the only lady team SCA in that competition. As the main sponsor and initiator of the project the sailing team is named after his company: HOTQUITO Sailing Team.
You’re the skipper of the boat. What are the responsibilities of a skipper in general?
On board the crew has ten members, including me. You need one person who keeps an overview. From the beginning on I was the initiator of the project and that’s why I naturally took over the management of the team. I organize the crew on board, the events, the sponsorship, the trainings and the different coaches, depending on the training plan. I am responsible for the boat and also for the safety of the crew. If something happens in a manoeuvre with one of the crew members or the material I am the first one who has to make a decision.
Do you sometimes struggle with the term “amateur team”?
Being an “amateur team” is not negative – a professional team is something very special. You can see them on high-class sailing events like on Saint Barth. This is a different league of sailing with big budgets behind each team. Actually, there are almost no professional teams at all within the ORC-circle in Germany on the North and Baltic Seas. When you start sailing regattas, you are classified by the ISAF (International Sailing Federation). The classification has to be checked every 24 months again. Indicators are for example, if you in the sailing industry, where get special skills and gain advantages from, or if you even earn money with the sailing sports. If you have “bad luck”, you are assigned to the professionals and have to compete with the professional teams. This year we are sailing the World Championships in Copenhagen and there is a separated amateur and professional ranking.
Your crew members are from different cities from all over Germany. How do you manage to meet up to train regularly?
You have to really want it and be crazy about the project! For sailors a one hour drive is nothing. We are used to it. The two girls from the south are always there when it’s time for the training. We have a financing concept with our main sponsor HOTQUITO for the travel expenses. That makes it much easier. We use a schedule that needs to be updated regularly by each crew member, so we can plan the trainings. Every month we have two sailing weekends, where we train the crew in such a way that each one is able to sail two positions on board. From time to time it can happen that a crew member is absent and therefore we have to be prepared.
What was your biggest success so far?
It’s pretty exciting that people are so interested in our team at the moment, even though we have not even participated in a regatta so far. It’s nice to see, that the whole sailing scene welcomes us with such a euphoria and that we get positive feedback. We managed to find our roles in the team, optimised the boat, set up and financed this great project with the help of our sponsors and additionally to find a fantastic boat and a wonderful crew – That´s already a great success!
Sailing seems to be a man dominated sport. Why are female teams so rare?
I don’t know. There are enough sporty girls out there, who are really keen on doing water sports. Historically sailing is a male sport. The bigger the ships, the fewer women on board. In videos of big regattas it is hard to find only a single woman on board. And if so, she is usually responsible for the strategy or other tasks, you don’t need physical strength for. Physically women are definitely disadvantaged on bigger boats. There are very few women participating in the national league. However, that is increasing at the moment. But still, there are clubs of the national league, which only nominates men for the team. Even in smaller boat classes there are maximum one third of the team female. Professional sailing is about 95 percent a male domain. On the other hand girls can keep up with the men in most of the smaller boat classes. Those are more about the trim and technique and less about strength. Of course, we have to be top fit on board, but the perfect teamwork on board and the timing for the manoeuvres is very important as well.
Your team is going to participate at the International German Championship (IDM) at the Kieler Woche. What can we expect from you? What’s your target?
Honestly – to stay realistic. The flow for the manoeuvres and a perfect teamwork on board – those are goals, we have already reached. We are not sailing “one-design”, which means we can’t compare ourselves 1:1 to the other ships around. In the ORC-Class every ship has its individual measurement certificate. When evaluating a race, the counted time is calculated based on the sailing time and specific factors and formulas. This makes it possible to compare ships with totally different measurements. We are one of the fastest boats. That means we not only have to lead the fleet, but also have to be far enough ahead that we are first even after the calculation. At the Kieler Woche we will give our best and are well prepared for the race.
Thank you very much for the nice conversation. We wish you good luck for the Kieler Woche!