Merelita Revel is the Captain of a 100ft Southern Wind built Sailing Yacht called Rapture.
During her career, she has sailed through the ranks in the yachting industry with her skill, dedication and hard work. Merelita is an inspiration to women in the industry and Dovaston Crew were lucky enough to to talk with her. We were dying to find out all about being a woman in yachting and how she has worked her way up the career ladder… not just as part of the interior team as a cook, but ocean sailing, on deck, and now as one of the few female captains in the superyacht industry.
Merelita is a Fiji born, New Zealand schooled sailor. Although she sailed from a young age with her father and as part of her schooling, Merelita wasn't always in this particular industry in fact she has qualifications and talents to excel at anything she turns her hand to.
At a young age, Merelita gained her Bachelor of Science in Zoology, then made a swift move back to sport and went on to being a sponsored snowboarder for 6-7 years. During this time she was sponsored to snowboard around New Zealand, Europe and Canada.
Even though the first job this ambitious sailor took on-board a yacht was as a cook, that particular boat also demanded a lot of time on deck so naturally she progressed from cook to sole deck; and racing positions.
Since her first position, Merelita has spent three years as a Mate on board a Swan 80 with a very heavy race program. From there she enjoyed a mount of vast experience crewing and racing. Her brag sheet includes crewing in three Rolex Transats; the fastest one taking 10 days and the slowest, though it was wet and stormy, was completed in 23 days on a classic yacht. She also crewed on yachts racing in world class regattas in Sardinia and the Caribbean.
When asked whether she has found it challenging competing in a very male dominated industry, it is clear Merelita feels strongly that she has never been treated differently or struggled as a female… She does offer this advice however, “Know what you know and what you don’t know, but if you don’t know something ASK it!”.
Merelita has noticed that in recent times, crew agencies such as Dovaston have more jobs advertised for female deck crew...
'The industry has changed massively since I joined...It may still be a male dominated industry’, she says ‘but, there are a lot more females out on deck and there are no limitations.’
Her knowledge of the industry is not limited to her career on-board…currently Merelita has some good friends involved in the Volvo Ocean Race; Corinna Halloran the on-board reporter and Sara Hastreiter who is a crew member of the all-female boat SCA. Merelita’s insight into the Volvo Ocean Race was focused on the dangers of sailing through Malaka straits, which would have been very tiring and stressful for the crew, not necessarily due to winds and seas, but dangerous traffic and some hazardous unlit fishing boats. The challenges from the Malaka straights didn’t stop there, ‘There’s a lot of debris in the water, so the crew would have had to spend a lot time in the water clearing the debris from the rudders. Then there are the wind shifts, working with these to keep up speed, which requires a huge amount of skill.’
At the moment, Merelita and her S/Y Rapture and crew are in the yard until April, after that they may do the Sardinia Southern Wind Regatta. The summers consist of either cruising the Med or New England, and winters are normally in the Caribbean. But you can bet that no matter where she is sailing that Merelita is taking pride in her job, looking after her boat, and her boat is looking after her… ’You have to be motivated and learn to motivate others, and most importantly take pride in what you do. When you take pride in your job, i.e. your boat, not only is that noticed by others, but your boat will look after you. At the end of the day it’s not just a job, it’s crossing seas.. It’s risky.’
Merelita only had a few parting words for females, or actually anyone getting in to the industry
“Go for it!” but she stresses you need to think about studying, what courses you’ll need… ‘Keep moving, get your sea miles and most of all be prepared to graft and gain respect!’
Dovaston Crew would like to thank Merelita for taking the time to speak with us… and we hope that these words will inspire women to follow in her footsteps.