Should women compete against men in sport?

There are very few sports that allow women and men to compete on an even playing field.

Women are seen as lacking physicality or technique, and in almost every sport in the world are provided with inferior funding. While other sports provide barriers to participation for women, Formula One powerboating continues to be an inspiring exception.

Marit Strømøy has been competing in the F1H2O World Championship for almost a decade and is the only female to have claimed a Grand Prix victory. The Norwegian pilot was one of three women that competed at Royal Victoria Dock earlier this month as the World Championship returned to London for the first time in over 30 years.

Strømøy is a fierce believer that women should be afforded more opportunities to prove their skills at the highest possible level and continues to inspire the next generation of female pilots. We caught up with the fastest woman on water to find out what it takes to be the best.

Strømøy said: “Powerboat racing is a sport where it’s proven that women can be as competitive as men. Powerboating is physically and mentally challenging and requires countless hours in the gym, but to compete at the highest level of this sport is such an honour.

“Women are stronger and more powerful than ever, and it was very pleasing that there were three women competing at the F1H2O Grand Prix of London.

“Competing against men on an equal level will help to inspire young girls to chase their dreams and not let gender be a hindrance. It was great that under 16s went free at the Grand Prix of London and I hope that it helped prove to girls in the UK that they are equal with their male counterparts.”

Strømøy finished seventh at the Grand Prix of London, ahead of the reigning F1H2O World Champion Alex Carella and American Shaun Torrente, who won the opening race of the season in Portugal.

The 41-year-old has been invigorated by the improvements in women’s sport over the previous few years, particularly seeing more sponsors become engaged and viewing figures increase. She believes that showing women can compete – and win – against men can only help to further enhance the reputation of female sport.

“In my life there’s been plenty of people that have tried to tell me what I can and can’t do. When I won my first World Championship race in 2015 I had proven not only to myself, but also to the world that I could do it.

“Competing for the right reasons have been important throughout my career. I race purely because I want to win races. I don’t race because I’m running a feminist campaign, but simply because I know I’m good at it and my goal is to get better and better. For me, I have the coolest job in the world!”