Julie Mira has been a professional yachtsman for 13 years. She makes the sad observation that the representation of women is low in the nautical world. Few of them dare to sail. So to help them feel legitimate at the helm, Julie created Les Marinettes.
Originally from Dunkirk, Julie Mira was not born into a family of sailors. Fascinated by the sea and navigation, she knows from an early age that her life will be spent aboard a boat. From the age of nine, she regattas in an Optimist, obtains her Diplôme de Brevet d’Etat de Voile at 19 and her Captain 200 at 23. Julie charts her course and at 32 has already covered the equivalent of two world tours.
She embarked on long convoys, skippered prestigious boats, then embarked on polar expeditions. During all these years of navigation, Julie only noticed the inequalities between men and women in the maritime environment. We are very far from parity.
Women represent only 2% of professional sailors in the world and 20% of light sailing licensees at the French Sailing Federation. These very low figures make her want to shake things up and make a project mature in her.
In France, we are a beautiful country of sailors, we have a wonderful coastline, we have a lot of sailors and we have a great playground, but in the collective spirit, the sailor is a good man!
Having few representations of women sailing does not help to democratize the practice for a female audience. Very often when there is a woman on board a boat, she positions herself in the second role, she is there to accompany the skipper, the captain. And even if she is quite capable of making the decisions, for lack of confidence, she puts up barriers, does not dare and thinks that she will not succeed.
To change this state of mind, Julie created Les Marinettes in 2009. Installed in Concarneau, it offers a personalized coaching service for women so that they can find their rightful place on board their boat. She helps women to dare to take the helm, to position themselves as skipper, to become an actress by reclaiming their boat and above all to feel legitimate in this role. Through this learning, she gives these women self-confidence and improves their weak points.
Julie’s role in her coaching is precisely to help these women to dare and prove to themselves that they are quite capable of taking the boat in hand. For this, she goes directly to the boats of her customers. She wants to be as close as possible to their reality and for learning to be as fast as possible. It is Julie who adapts to them, to their boats, to their personalities, and to the specific needs they need. In her coaching, she brings her experience, her know-how but above all there is a large part of psychology which is very important, “The Marinettes are not a sailing school”.
Julie travels all over France and takes these women in coaching for between two and four days. Once both of them are on board, Julie teaches him to sail with always benevolent advice then halfway through this learning, when we are in a couple situation, the husband joins them to learn to sail together and form a close-knit crew.
When I leave the boat and seeing these women who are confident, who have found their place on board and to see them maneuvering, being part of the crew with their families, with their husbands, I tell myself that I am losing women fil des ports and I hope it creates representation for other women.
For Littoral, Marine Barnérias went to meet Julie to follow a day of coaching at sea and understand her approach…
To watch and review the show:
Who uses your services?
I have two scenarios. There are single women who have just bought their boats and who want to be independent, to be able to go out alone with their boats. And there are also couples who are preparing a major travel plan, either a transatlantic or a round-the-world trip as a couple or as a family. It is very important in these projects that the crew is competent, that the two can count on the other, that if something happens to one, the other can go and get it. This is an important security element. When you are at sea, it allows you to have less anxiety and less worry in navigation.
In this style of family travel plan, who’s calling you? The woman or the man?
What is very surprising when I created the Marinettes, I really thought I only had women to call me and explain their problems to me. But in reality, it is often the man who calls. In the project of navigation, purchase of boat, it is often the man who launches the idea and the woman follows the adventure and in the majority of the cases, she does not have the same skills as her spouse. As a result, they try to learn on board together but learning as a couple with all the problems it can have is rarely a success! The man feels that he cannot manage to share with his family. For the boat project to go well, it is important that both are trained as soon as possible to avoid too much fear and stress. It’s a real upheaval in the balance of the couple, everyone has to get out of their comfort zone.
Is it easy to interfere in the couple?
I love getting into the intimacy of the couple, it’s like knocking on people’s doors and telling them “hello, I’m coming to spend a few days on board with you”… We are in a desire to change roles, to modify the place of one and the other in the balance of the couple and we are in a training process so it is going well. My goal is to accompany them, to understand their functioning, to know who they are and to know their history. I accompany them as best I can so that they are happy to sail together for the future.
Interview by Lorène Bienvenu.
To find out even more:
The practical guide for sailors, dare to take the helm! by Julie Mira.
Published by Vagnon Du Plaisancier Eds.