Carolijn Brouwer hopes to see greater acceptance of female sailors going forward
Last Updated: 07/03/18 11:38pm
Round-the-world sailor Carolijn Brouwer insists succeeding in her sport is the best way in which she can inspire women across the globe.
Dutch sailor Brouwer is participating in her third Volvo Ocean Race and is a key member of the Dongfeng Race Team, who are second, midway through the 45,000 nautical-mile race.
The three-time Olympian was part of the all-female Team SCA crew in the last edition of the race, but says her goal this time round is simply to illustrate that women sailing at elite level is perfectly normal.
"If I can help to empower women around the world in some little way then I do," Brouwer said to mark International Women's Day on March 8.
"With Team SCA, we wanted to sail as fast as we could to get the best result, and by doing that I think we were empowering women. My goal in that race was just to sail the best we could and by doing that we would automatically inspire women.
"Now being part of a mixed group, I'm not specifically bringing the message across that we need to have women on the boats and 'look at me and this is how we are doing it'. No, by doing a job and by being an integral part of the crew we are just showing the rest of the world that it is a natural thing.
"I think when they introduced the compulsory mixed Nacra 17 class at the Olympics everybody was saying a girl and a boy on a boat was not going to work.
"Now that we've had the Rio Olympics (where the Nacra 17 class made its Olympic debut) nobody speaks about it anymore. It's just a normal thing and that's what I hope that this race will achieve as well.
"Mixed sailing works well. It gives a different dynamic to the teams and towards the end of the race I don't think anybody will be talking about it. It will just be a normal thing."
Brouwer is regularly seen accompanied by her seven-year-old son Kyle when she is in-port and says she feels blessed to be able to give her child a unique education and experience of life.
"He's been following me on all of my ocean sailing adventures pretty much since he was born. He was three when I did the race with SCA," Brouwer said.
"He goes to school in Australia where I am based now and his teachers are very supportive of what we do and the type of education we are giving him as a travelling child.
"I really believe Kyle will be a more complete person because of the upbringing we are giving him now than if he were to go to school every day.
"The people he meets the different cultures and little things like after we were in Cape Town he went back to school and told his class about Nelson Mandela. It's nice when I hear his teacher say the education you are giving your child is better than the education I can give him in the classroom."