(CNN)All-man crews could be at a major disadvantage when the next part of a premier race sets sail.
Rather, crews that include women will be allowed a numerical advantage under the new revised rules put in place for the 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race.
To add to the major new development of women’s sailing, all-female crewmembers can number eleven compared to all-man crews which may have a max of seven, one fewer than in 2014-2015.
Mixed teams can now be comprised of 5 men and 5 women, 7 men and 1 or 2 women, or 7 females and 1 or 2 men.
In a race where these boats will actually spend more than 3 weeks at sea on sea legs, having added crew does help with watching systems that keep the boat moving along 24 hours a day and at the same time, it increases the physical input necessary for changing and storing heavy sails.
“It would indeed be quite hard to compete with only seven people on a Volvo Ocean 65 against teams of 8 or 9,” says Ian Walker, Volvo Ocean Race-winning skipper in 2014-2015 and double Olympic silver medallist.
“This new rule will most certainly force these teams to hire more women, and that will indeed create a better platform for effective learning. If female offshore sailors ever want to compete at this very same level as the best in the world, then they will need to do their training and race with the best.”
In the recent race in 2014-2015, this all-female crew of Team SCA finished 3rd in the In-Port race series and has became the first to win an offshore leg in 25 years.
“We are now very determined to build on that energy, and we want to guarantee that the Volvo Ocean Race continues to have the very very best sailors competing in the race — both men and women” said Mark Turner, chief executive of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Since the race was launched back in 1973, there have been more than 100 female sailors compared with more than 2,000 men.
The first all-female crew took place on Maiden, skippered by Briton Tracy Edwards, from 1989-1990, winning 2 legs and finishing second overall in its class.
“This is quite fantastic news for elite female athletes, not just in sailing but in a sport as awhile,” said Dee Caffari, who has raced on Team SCA and became the first female to sail without stopping around the world in the “wrong direction” — westabout against the wind.
The 2017-2018 version of the race is going to start from Alicante, Spain, and include stopovers in ten ports around the world with a finish in The Hague, the Netherlands.