One of only two female Captains to take part in The Tall Ships Races 2011, 29 year-old Marianne Flinck, Captain of Atlantica, from Gothenburg, Sweden, is probably one of the youngest too. Sail Training International has invited her to speak at the Captains Dinner this evening but we thought we would catch-up with her first!
Marianne describes her childhood as growing up on a boat as her parents first took her sailing at just three months old. She later progressed to dingy sailing, aged just seven, and became a trainee in The Tall Ships Races 1996 on board Class B vessel Gratitude, which quite appropriately, happens to be the sister ship of Atlantica.
Talking of her experience on Gratitude, Marianne explains: "The best part about being a trainee was definitely meeting all of the people from different countries and making great friendships with the crew.”
Marianne is now a doctor, training to become an orthopaedic surgeon, but takes a volunteer role each year to captain Atlantica. This is the first year she has taken part in The Tall Ships Races as a captain: "My day job in the hospital is pretty much 0900 - 1700 but sailing is a bigger challenge as I am in charge 24 hours a day, responsible for all trainees and crew, but it is most definitely a fun challenge!"
Atlantica has 24 Swedish trainees aged between 15 - 20 years old and nine crew members. The vessel joined the fleet in Stavanger to take part in Race Three but Marianne explained that Atlantica is not built for light wind so it was a little bit of a struggle.
Talking about her trainees, Marianne enthused: "They have been the best ever! They are curious, ask lots of questions and have really worked hard and well together as a team. Most of them had never met before they joined Atlantica so it has been great to see friendships develop and to play a role in helping them to enjoy sailing."
Marianne has a few words of advice for trainees wanting to follow in her footsteps and eventually take charge as Captain in The Tall Ships Races: "Be curious, ask lots of questions and get as much sailing experience as you can. It is possible to learn skills such as navigation but experiencing the force of the sea is something which needs to be gained on board. Keep having fun and keep sailing!"
The Tall Ships Races 2011 is presented by Szczecin and organised by Sail Training International.