On Sunday an all-female crew from the Royal Nova Scotian Yacht Squadron will be hopping aboard their sailboat — Semper Vivens — to compete in the bi-annual Marblehead to Halifax Ocean Race.

The 360-mile race begins in Boston with the top finishers expected to make it to Halifax as early as Monday.

“People say, ‘aren’t you afraid? Isn’t that dangerous — eight women on the ocean in the middle of the Atlantic — what if something goes wrong?’” crewmember Paula Minnikin said Thursday from Halifax.


“It’s a hell of a lot more dangerous to lay on your couch for your whole life. This is the way life’s supposed to be.”

Even though the first all-female crew competed in this race in 1979, all-women teams are still rare in ocean racing.

Organizations like the Halifax-based Women on Water, established to encourage and support female sailing and programs, have encouraged women to become engaged in racing.

“They have done a good job getting more women more active, in more active roles on the boat,” said Minnikin, who has been involved with a women’s learn to sail program for the past 10 years.

Minnikin said the atmosphere aboard a sailboat with a female crew is quite different than one with a mixed crew.

“Everybody makes sure everybody has a say,” she said, “You’re more open to listening to the experiences of the group as opposed to having one person leading the whole thing.”

Minnikin said the most amazing part of Halifax’s Semper Vivens crew is the woman who brought the team together.

Halifax’s Judy Robertson had an operation for colon cancer Dec. 17, which was also her 50th birthday, and six months later is now in Boston ready for the race to begin.

“Lots of people wouldn’t do this, but Judy would,” said Minnikin, who is leaving for Boston Friday. “She just decided she wanted to do it.”

Latest From ...