Photography by © Salty Dingo
23 February 2023
The Australian Women’s Challenge team aims to compete in a women’s regatta which will form part of the AC37, joining teams from nine other countries who have signed up so far.
Australian Olympic medallists Olivia Price and Nina Curtis will spearhead the athletes syndicate and are seeking expressions of interest and trials to recruit leading foiling Australian female sailors to build a competitive crew for the quest.
“This campaign has the ability to transform women’s sailing in Australia. We have the skills, the ambition, resources and the talent to win for Australia in the Barcelona 2024 Women’s America’s Cup,” said Price.
“This is a unique opportunity for Australia to finally fly our flag in the world’s oldest sporting competition, the America’s Cup,” added Curtis. “We’re building more than a campaign – we’re building a legacy.”
Simultaneously a campaign for the challenge was launched to attract sponsorship and supporters for the 20-month journey to the start line on 10 October 2024.
The dual London Olympic silver medallists are active professional sailors. Price recently won the Sail Melbourne competition with her 49erFX team-mate Evie Haseldine as they prepare for their bid to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and Curtis the tactician on the Australian Sail GP Team is the first ever female to win a season title last year.
“America’s Cup is the pinnacle event of our sport. For women to at last be invited to compete is history making and a watershed moment we had only dreamt of,” Price said.
“We have achieved at the very highest levels that women in our sport have been given access to. This is a new threshold and we are ambitious and excited to be part of history in the making,” she continued.
Curtis, who recently announced her pregnancy but remains working on the Sail GP Australian team, described the campaign as the opportunity of a lifetime, saying it was an honour to pioneer inclusivity and access for women in sailing in such a male-dominated sport.
“It’s a long-held dream we both shared from a young age. The America’s Cup was written into our national psyche when Australia II rewrote history and John Bertrand’s team won it off the USA. It’s pretty exciting to think we could now help write a new chapter in Australia’s sailing and America’s Cup history,” she said.
Campaign Chair, Annick Donat said the incredible depth and breadth of female sailing skills in Australia made it virtually an obligation to mount a campaign for this prestige event.
When asked why she joined the campaign team, Donat said “It’s a unique moment in history for women in sport, and sailing in particular and our sailors have an excellent track record of successful regattas.
“I am looking forward to speaking with companies about how they can support the campaign through sponsorship opportunities. It will be great to see the Australian corporate and public community get behind this team all to way the finish line.”
The technology behind the brand-new design AC40 foiling yachts, which hold a crew of four, is capable of speeds up to 85km an hour.
The competition will feature up to 12 women’s teams in Barcelona, competing on identical boats provided to the teams in both fleet and match racing modes.
The Australian team plans to access a simulator on home soil and get on the water in trial yachts in Europe in the lead-up.
Once in Barcelona, team weights will be equalised for a strict format competition run on the most modern sailing technology and relying on true sailing talent on the water.
Shoreside the women’s teams will be based in Port Olimpic in the heart of the Barcelona beachfront, right in the vibrant action centre of AC37. The Women’s final will be globally broadcast on the third day of the Men’s Racing, a global viewership that has exceeded 940 million in the last America’s Cup broadcast.
“We really do believe we can win this,” the Aussie sailing duo said in unison. “This dream can only be realised with the whole country’s support, so come on this journey with us. Now is the time!”