SB20 sailor already a ‘Cape Horner’

  • June 10, 2017

At the age of 28, Tasmanian sailor Jo Breen has already sailed 30,000 nautical miles in oceans around the world, including rounding Cape Horn.

In May next year she will skipper her own small yacht Morning Star in the 5,500 nautical mile two-handed race from Melbourne to Osaka, Japan, with a Russian woman as her crew.

In the lead-up to that marathon ocean race from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere, Jo, who lives at Winkleigh on the West Tamar, plans to compete in the SB20 world championship in Hobart next January.

This  long weekend she will be part of the crew of a Tasmanian women’s team sailing the Archambault 35 Absolut in the Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta on Melbourne’s Port Phillip.

The Tasmanian team, skippered by Colleen Darcey, is among the favourites in the fleet of 20 boats sailed by women from all States.

Jo Breen and her crew of the SB20 Fire of Athena, Clare Brown, Tamara Potter and Mollie Grainger, make up four of the 10 crew sailing in the AWKR this weekend.

Jo began her sailing in Sabot, Flying 11 and Laser dinghies with the Tamar Yacht Cub before moving up to keelboats and going ocean racing and cruising.

Her sailing record is quite remarkable:  four years as a yacht delivery skipper,  then nine months in the high latitudes aboard famous yachtsman Skip Novak’s Palegic. “That’s when I sailed around the Horn,” Jo recalled yesterday.

“I also sailed a yacht solo from the Azores to England…surviving a deep low in the North Atlantic,” she added.

Jo raced in last December’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as navigator aboard the Tasmanian yacht Cromarty of Magellan which won the Corinthian division.

Sailing with Jo in the Melbourne to Osaka race aboard her S&S 34 will be 36-year-old Russian yachtswoman Svetlana Pashschenko, now based in Melbourne.

“We will be the smallest yacht and the only all-women crew in the fleet of 30 boats,” Joe explained.

In between sailing in the highly competitive SB20 fleet on the River Derwent and being part of the Tasmanian crew in this coming long weekend’s Australian Women’s Keelboat Regatta, Jo has been giving her boat a thorough refit at the Tamar Yacht Club slipway at Launceston, including a new mast and rudder.

Next on her sailing agenda following the AWKR will be the SB20 Mid-Winter Championship on the Derwent on 17-18 June.

“To qualify for the Melbourne to Osaka race, we must sail two-handed in the Maria Island Race in November and then the Melbourne to Hobart West Coaster at the end of December,” Jo added.

Words:  Peter Campbell

Photos: Michelle Denney

10 June 2017