Libby Greenhalgh interview

Despite having raced across many of the world’s oceans and taken part in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race aboard Team SCA, when experienced British navigator Libby Greenhalgh leaves Sydney Heads on Boxing Day aboard Lisa Blair’s Climate Action Now it will be her first Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
Interviewer: Libby Greenhalgh, navigator aboard Climate Action Now. You've put a lot of miles under the keel over the years, but I gather this is your first Sydney Hobart. Tell us about that.

Libby G.: Yeah, it very much is my first Sydney Hobart, which I'm obviously super excited about. I've had a great opportunity. I'm a director of a project called The Magenta Project, which is about accelerating women to the top of sailing. Lisa Blair contacted the project to say she wants to put an all female team in the Sydney Hobart. Would the Magenta Project be interested in collaborating with her? Yeah, we basically have put a team together, three experienced sailors, and then we put it out for women across the world to apply. We've managed to pick five people from over 170, all sort of, I guess we're saying emerging sailors, so not completely inexperienced. Actually, a lot of them have got a lot of miles, but just to give them the opportunity to do a race like this, on this kind of boat, and hopefully also some mentoring from the more experienced sailors to help move them forward in the sport.

Interviewer: And tell us a bit more about Climate Action Now. It's a pretty extraordinary boat and a pretty extraordinary skipper. Tell us a little bit more about that.

Libby G.: Yeah, I mean, Lisa Blair, what an incredible woman, and what she's achieved in the last sort of, I guess, 18 months or so. She set off to sail solo around Antarctica, with a fantastic message with Climate Action Now. It's about really getting down to the individual, and getting them to sort of say, "This is what I can do to make a difference." I think we all know that there's plastic everywhere, and there's problems with the ocean, but, you know, it's time, actually, everybody took a little bit of ownership of it. She got this fantastic Post-it Note campaign where people can write on a Post-it Note what they're going to do, and then she sort of done a vinyl wrap around the boat with all the different things. It's quite interesting to read what different people say.

Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about your role. As you said, you've got some young women coming on the race. Presumably, a fair bit of sailing under their belt, but maybe not Sydney Hobart's. What are you going to be looking to help them with on the way down?

Libby G.: Yeah, I mean, for sure, I don't think any of the emerging sailors we've got with us have done the Sydney Hobart. Ages range from 18 to 43. For each of them, a big thing is getting the experience in the different areas. One of the interesting things we have with the applications was, a lot of people had a lot of experience in terms of races and miles, but perhaps only did pit or strings, or only did bow. It's actually, you know, getting them more into the trimming roles, driving roles. So, everyone's going to be doing a lot of different roles on the boat. I think that's really important because we want them to sort of step off to be able to say, "I've done the Sydney Hobart. I was a trimmer driver." "I was a bow," or whatever area that they're really keen to have a skill on. And a lot of them are obviously interested in the navigation side of things.