Discovering diversity

Last year Lizzy Foreman took part in the Mini Transat and hopes to race in the Vendee Globe one day. In this series the experienced racer takes us on a journey through the lives of racing sailors looking at the challenge these men and women face. This month Lizzy shares her experiences with Team Jolokia created to promote diversity.

Integration has become one of the major challenges of the modern world with the rise of economic, cultural and political globalisation.

‘Diversity is the spice of life’ and yet differences between people still too often promote fear, when it should be enriching our lives.

Team Jolokia was created in France in 2011 to address these integration issues by emphasising diversity within society as a strength and necessity. Based in Brittany, the project consists of an intense offshore racing programme on board the 2001-02 Volvo Ocean Race boat Djuice Dragons with a team of 24 people from all walks of life being sponsored to embark upon the adventure each year.

For 2017 it is an even split between male and female crew, with the ages ranging from 19 to 57-years-old. Five nationalities are represented and three team members have a physical disability.

Described as a ‘social and managerial laboratory’, the objective of the project is to transfer the experience of the diverse team to companies, institutions and other organisations in order to provide them with keys to the integration of diversity.

Image: Benjamin Simon Lohezic


Back in November I was selected to join the team, and I have been really enjoying the project from both a social and sporting aspect. It has not only improved my French but also my interpersonal skills, alongside boosting my confidence on board 60ft plus race craft.

The training is very intensive, often kicking off at 7am with a fitness session, and has even included a three day survival course with the French Navy, which involved escaping from a ‘sunken’ helicopter.

The sailing team is fully inclusive. No matter your age, gender, race or disability, you are given the chance to learn and progress to your maximum ability. It has been particularly refreshing to see women having the opportunity to do all roles on the 64ft race boat, with a number of the crew even juggling their commitment to the project around taking care of their young families, while our jib trimmer is an ex-Paralympian!

As a team we recently finished 11th out of 471 boats in the Tour de Belle-Ile race and took 2nd line hours in IRC 1 of the Armen Race. Next up is the Cowes – Dinard race this month, followed swiftly by Cowes Week and the Fastnet, with the season finale being the Voiles de Saint Tropez in October.

Joining the team has been an incredibly enriching experience and I would love to see a similar project set up in the UK. / @TeamJolokia.