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Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta: Flying the Flag for Female Sailors in Sines

Posted on: 30.04.17

Today (Sunday 30 April) was the final full day in port for the international Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta fleet. It’s been a fantastic event in Sines so far, with nearly 40,000 visitors and counting! We’ve heard lots of great stories from ships and trainees over the course of the weekend… and today we’ve got some inspiring messages from some very special female sailors. Keep reading to find out more…

After the excitement of the Crew Parade and the Prize-Giving Ceremony yesterday (Saturday 29 April), the captains, crew members and trainees are now busy preparing for the epic Transatlantic leg of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. When the fleet leaves Sines tomorrow (Monday 1 May), it will head toward Las Palmas, Canary Islands, for a 48-hour stop-over, then plot a course across the Atlantic, before arriving in Bermuda.

For the first part of Race 2 (from Sines to Las Palmas), Belem (France) will host an excited (and exciting) crew…consisting entirely of women!

“Gazelles de la Mer” Take Up the Challenge on Board Belem

Earlier, we caught up with Belem’s new crew members, who had an exceptional and inspirational story to tell. Here’s the background…

For 12 years, French postal service La Poste has backed the Aïcha des Gazelles Rally in Morocco. It’s a nine-day rally event where 125 women race toward the finish in Marrakech or Essaouira.

Now, La Poste has set a new challenge for 2017… to sail from Sines to Las Palmas as part of an all-female crew in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. These women have been dubbed “Gazelle de la Mer.”

“Being a ‘Gazelle of the sea’ [Gazelle de la mer] means knowing and accepting to commit, adapt and help each other to win! They will have to adapt constantly to all conditions: climatic, physical… and especially to others. Indeed, the sea school is tough, it requires a flawless team spirit and a strong sense of responsibility. They must be tenacious and demanding with the desire to meet a collective challenge, and a determination to push their limits to achieve their objectives.”

La Poste.

Gazelles de la Mer on board Belem

We caught up with two of the “gazelles” to hear their stories:

Marieke van Elden

How did you get involved?

“I got an email from La Poste, saying they had an international sail competition with only women. I thought, ‘Well, this is going to be a big adventure for me… so why not!’

Have you sailed before?


How have you prepared for the challenge?

“I always go to the gym, I do a lot of sports, so I didn’t really prepare myself in that way. I read about sailing and the words used… that’s what I did.”

What are you looking forward to?

“I think, when we’re in the middle of the sea, with the water all around you, when the sun is coming up or the moon is rising… it’ll be beautiful.”

What are you not looking forward to?

“Seasickness. It’s going to happen and I’m afraid of that!”

What’s your next adventure after this?

“I think I have to try to let this adventure sink in. My next big adventure is my summer holiday, then skiing. But I think I’ll never forget this adventure!”


Séverine Dorey

How did you get involved?

“I want to experience a big adventure. I love the sea, I love Belem, I grew up near the sea, so it was a dream to be here now.”

Have you sailed before?

“I grew up sailing with my uncle and my father, because he had a boat. I’m a sailing lover.”

How have you prepared for the challenge?

“I’ve done some sport, but probably not enough…!”

What are you looking forward to?

“I’m looking forward to a big adventure. To share experiences with other women, different lifestyles and horizons. It’ll be very interesting for me and us to be together. A big Adventure, with a capital A.”

What are you not looking forward to?

“Like Marieke, I’m not looking forward to being seasick or being too tired.”

What’s your next adventure after this?

“I’ll go back to my job and then I’ll start preparing for my next adventure!”

All together now

We’ll catch up with the La Poste crew in Las Palmas to hear all about their adventure.

About the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta

The Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta is truly the adventure of a lifetime. You could be sailing in the wake of the great explorers, travelling 10,000 nautical miles, visiting seven different countries (UK, Portugal, Canary Islands, Bermuda, USA, Canada, and France), taking part in seven races… and cruising to more than 30 beautiful Canadian guest ports. What are you waiting for?

What’s Next?

Want to get involved with the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta? There are still berths available – secure your place today! Check out our event page for more information. You can book your place directly with a participating vessel, or if you’d like help simply email our friendly team on who can make recommendations, answer questions and process your booking for you.

Photos: Gazelles de la Mer on board Belem (banner image and featured images, courtesy of Valery Vasilevsky).