Young Belgian-Spanish sailor Djemila Tassin talks to the Globe40 teams about the2nd edition, where she will be part of the Volvo Curium crew skippered by Jonas Gerckens.

You were born on the Canary Islands in La Palma. How did you develop your passion for the sea and your desire to become a sailor?

I started when I was very young, as my dad had a small boat that enabled me to sail around in the water on the west coast of La Palma. We didn’t necessarily sail very often, but enough to make me love the sport. My father’s family also sailed a lot, they had light sailing schools and so I heard a lot about sailing in the family. It was something I could only dream about.

When I was 18, I did a transatlantic race in a hitchhiking boat and that’s when things really clicked for me. I then started doing the Mini 6.50 when I was at university and then I never stopped for 5 years. My passion for the sea really came from living by the sea, where I grew up on an island watching sunsets over the ocean every evening.

What is your sailing career and past experience?

My sailing career is broadly based on my two Mini 6.50 campaigns, with a few experiences on other boats in between when I’ve had the chance. I’ve had a few experiences in Figaros, Class40s, delivery trips and races, but it’s mainly been in Mini 6.50s. A few months ago, I took part in a leg of the Ocean Globe Race, which gave me the opportunity to race a transpacific race on vintage yachts. So I’ve already had the opportunity to round Cape Horn with a crew.

You’ve taken part in the last two editions of the Mini (2021 and 2023). What do you take away from these experiences, both in terms of preparing the projects and the races themselves?

The 2021 edition was my first Mini Transat, and it took me 3 years to get ready for the start. I really learnt a lot. My learning curve was enormous. When you start out and you don’t know anything, you have to learn absolutely everything, the technique, the racing, the sailing. In 2023, it was very different, I was much better prepared and was part of the best training centre you can have. My objective in 2023 was clearly a top 5 or even a podium finish. Unfortunately, I didn’t perform as well as I would have liked despite a very good1st stage. I finished 10th overall, so it was a pretty disappointing result, but I learnt from my mistakes.

It’s often said that the Mini Transat is the best school for becoming a great sailor? do you agree with that?

The Mini Transat is a great school for becoming autonomous and ultra-versatile on a boat, as you have to manage an entire project. Now, in my opinion, to become a great sailor, you need a lot more than that. Above all, you have to have a lot of different types of support to be comfortable on all types of boat.

The place of women in ocean racing is a subject that is taken seriously these days. Do you think it’s more difficult for a woman to carve out a place for herself in this field, and how do you explain the fact that there are still so few women at the start of the major races?

We all ask ourselves the same question, why aren’t there more women at the start of races? I think there’s a huge lack of role models, and it’s very difficult to get involved in a sport where you don’t necessarily feel you have the right to do so. Setting up an ocean racing project is very difficult these days, so we need to feel supported. The hardest thing for a woman is to imagine that it’s possible. The reality is that it’s complicated for women to find partners. We’re often told the opposite, but in fact when it comes to signing contracts it’s clear that it’s never easy. I really hope that things will change.

Let’s talk about the Globe40, where you’re part of Jonas Gerckens’ Volvo Curium team. How did this opportunity come about?

A few years ago, when I got back from my first Mini 6.50, I wrote to several Class40 skippers to tell them that I was available for convoying with a thirst for learning. Jonas immediately replied that he was interested in having a Belgian sail on his project and offered me the chance to come and sail with his team. I did an initial delivery trip with him, which went really well, and from then on, we started to keep in touch. He included me more and more in his sailing projects and I took part in the Armen Race with them last year. He recently offered me a place as co-skipper on the Globe40.

What is your role within the Volvo Curium team and in particular in the preparations for the Globe40?

On the one hand I do the preparation on the boat with the main préparateur. I think it was important for Jonas to get young people and a woman sailing, so I ticked that box. The Québec Saint Malo will give us a chance to get to grips with the boat and also to see if everything’s going well on board with me.

So you’ll be part of Jonas Gerckens’ crew. Do you already know which legs you’ll be sailing? and how did you come to make this choice?

Yes, I already know which legs I’ll be sailing, but it’s not public yet so I can’t talk about it. After that, the choice was made jointly with the 3 other people sailing, Jonas, Renaud and Benoit. As they have more experience and background in the project, they had a bit more freedom to choose the stages they wanted to do. I’m still the junior in the team, so that’s how the stages were chosen. After that, the round-the-world race is next year, so things could still change.

How do you feel about taking part in a round the world race like the Globe40?

I’m really a fan of the open seas, so the long legs appeal to me enormously. I can’t wait to discover all the oceans, I want to leave the North Atlantic to see what’s going on elsewhere. Class40 is a fairly simple boat, a bit like a big Mini 6.50, so it’ll be easier for me to get the hang of. The aim is to get comfortable on this type of boat so that I can then try to set up my own Class40 project later on.

What are your sporting deadlines until the start of the Globe40 2025?

For the moment, our next objective is the Québec Saint Malo. Then we’ll have the double-handed Class30 world championship with Jonas in September. We’re going to be doing a lot of training on the boat so that we’re ready for the round the world race.

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