British sailors Emma Richards and Miranda Merron are the two new crew members aboard Amer Sports Too

British sailors Emma Richards and Miranda Merron have signed up with the women’s Volvo Ocean Race team Amer Sports Too.

Emma (27 years old) will be a trimmer/helmsman while Miranda (32 years old) is taking over the navigator’s duties from Genevieve White.

Miranda is an accomplished all-rounder and brings a wealth of offshore experience to the campaign. She has offshore yachtmaster qualifications, an MA in Japanese from Cambridge University and will take on the role as navigator.

Emma is an accomplished dinghy sailor who has successfully ‘migrated’ to keelboats and multihulls. She joins Amer Sports Too for the fourth leg as a helmsman/trimmer.

Skipper Lisa McDonald says, “Both women have impressive sailing CVs and will get quickly into the team environment and we will see some good performances from them. They bring invaluable offshore big boat experience and so it will be fantastic to have them onboard.

“There are still six legs to go, 70 per cent of the points, and I’m optimistic that we will get up there. The team as a whole is doing a fantastic job and we are all on such a steep learning curve. No doubt some of the men’s teams will have already peaked, or at least are only slowly learning things; we think we are improving all the time. We have a long way to go, but I’m confident that we will be among the fleet by the time we reach the Atlantic.”

The pressure is certainly on Emma and Miranda, stepping straight into the Southern Ocean from Auckland on an unfamiliar yacht and with a crew they have not sailed with as a unit, but not surprisingly they are looking upon it as a challenge.

Emma says, “This is one form of ocean racing I haven’t yet really touched. We will get some training in before we leave Auckland on 27 January. After a couple of years in shorthanded sailing, I am really looking forward to sailing with a full crew.”

Miranda is aware of the demands stepping onboard three stages into the race bring; “There’s a lot of pressure and expectation for us. What makes it harder is that I couldn’t possibly hope or dream of having the same level of experience as the other navigators in the race. So I would say that I am mildly apprehensive at the moment.”

Both women recently sailed the Atlantic Ocean from France to Brazil in the Transat Jacques Vabres, Emma on a 60ft trimaran and Miranda on an Open 60. In 1988 they sailed together on Royal and Sun Alliance in the all-women attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy, a non-stop round-the-world record attempt.