Photography by SailGP
Tom Slingsby returned to his home sailing club in New South Wales to help launch an innovative new program that aims to create a pathway into high-performance sail racing.
The new initiative is part of SailGP Inspire – the global racing league’s youth and community outreach arm. The newly launched Inspire Racing x WASZP program will use flying dinghies at SailGP events in Season 2 to help bridge the gap between youth sailing programs and professional pathways.
Coinciding with the Australia SailGP Team’s national trophy tour, Slingsby hosted an on-water coaching session at Gosford Sailing Club with aspiring young local sailors on WASZP boats, providing a unique opportunity to experience the sensation of foiling for themselves – similar to the revolutionary F50 catamarans in which SailGP is contested.
The program, which will take place at a number of SailGP events in Season 2, is geared towards young competitive sailors with an interest in learning to foil.
Applications for the first two SailGP Inspire Racing events in Sydney and San Francisco are now open for sailors aged 20 or under at the time of the event.
“I loved getting out on the water with the young sailors and seeing them enjoy sailing the WAZSP,” said Slingsby.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for young sailors to get experience on foiling boats and learn about the technology – something that is inaccessible for many young people and what we want to change with this program. I hope many of them will sign up and we will see them in Sydney.”
Successful candidates will be invited to a high-performance camp with access to expertise from coaches and SailGP team members before getting the chance to race on the same waters as the SailGP F50s in front of cheering crowds – inspiring them to become the SailGP athletes of the future.
To accelerate the young sailors’ development, the winner from each event will be awarded a WASZP, and each season a boy and a girl will also be selected to compete in the WASZP Games to offer further racing experience.
“We found there is a need to improve retention in sailing and transition sailors from youth level to senior sailing,” said WASZP Global Sales Manager Marc Ablett. “In partnership with SailGP Inspire, we are working toward creating a sustainable lifestyle that reflects fun on and off the water as well as engaging competition.”
A selection panel will decide the final 16 sailors, comprising of a 50/50 gender split, that will join the program in Sydney and San Francisco. Candidates can apply for the first two Inspire Racing x WASZP events. Applications for Sydney will close on January 5, 2020, and successful candidates will be notified at the end of January. Further events will be announced over the coming months.
In Season 2, SailGP Inspire will further its relationship with RS Sailing to deliver a junior racing program – Inspire Racing x RS Cat14. Also taking place at Sydney SailGP, and all subsequent SailGP events during Season 2, SailGP Inspire will work with local partners to select 16 sailors, aged 15 or under, to take part in the program and race alongside the WASZPs and F50s on the SailGP racecourse.
Inspire Racing is one of three pathways that provide various ways for students, sailors and young professionals of all ages to be involved with SailGP.
Designed to engage students with little to no knowledge of sailing, Inspire Learning uses innovative STEAM-based modules to introduce students to the science behind sailing and get them on the water onboard SailGP’s fleet of RS Cat14s.
In addition, Inspire Careers provides students the opportunity to gain essential work experience at the events and see first-hand the wide range of career opportunities within SailGP.