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World Sailing look to leading influencers to Balance the Boat

by World Sailing on 29 Oct 7 November 2017

Every boat competing in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race, starting this weekend, will have female sailors racing around the world and at Tokyo 2020, there will be a 50/50 split of male and female competitors.

There have been some good initiatives within sailing to date, but more work needs to be done to level the playing field. At World Sailing's 2017 Annual Conference, four of sports leading influencers will spark discussion and debate at a special forum titled, Balancing the Boat: growing female participation and developing pathways in competitive sailing.

Held on Monday 7 November, Balancing the boat will discuss solutions to ensure more women take up sailing and remain within the sport through the development of clearly defined pathways and systemic change to create more opportunities for women at the top of the sport.

Hosted by broadcaster Alec Wilkinson in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the forum will be streamed live across the World Sailing Network. Wilkinson will welcome leading influencers before a panel session where followers will be invited to join the discussion and post questions to the panel using #UnitingOurSport on social media.

Speakers include:

  • Libby Greenhalgh (GBR)
    Director of Operations at Magenta Project, Greenhalgh focuses on driving visibility of women in sailing, showcasing the sport as one of a few sports where men and women compete on a level playing field.

  • Sofia Bekatorou (GRE)
    A two-time Olympic medallist, four time Olympian and World Champion and Rolex World Sailor of the Year, Bekatorou is Vice-Chair of World Sailing's Athletes' Commission.

  • Joe Jacobi (USA)
    Jacobi won USA's first ever Olympic gold medal in the Whitewater Canoe Slalom, was CEO of USA Canoe/Kayak and will share his experience of creating sustainable high-performance systems that drive female participation in sport.

  • Jo Aleh (NZL)
    Aleh, a two-time Olympic medallist and Rolex World Sailor of the Year, sits on World Sailing's Athletes' Commission and is a passionate advocate for women in sailing.

Follow live from 14:30 – 18:00 local time, 19:30-23:00 UTC on Monday 7 November here:

World Sailing Chief Executive Officer Andy Hunt commented, "We have seen a rise in female participation in recent years through the Volvo Ocean Race's initiatives and through the IOC's Olympic Agenda 2020.

"Nonetheless, we all have a responsibility to further develop female participation in sailing, from the grassroots to the top of our sport.

"Balancing the Boat will ignite debate amongst our stakeholders with first-hand accounts from some of the leading female sailors and an external viewpoint from canoe and kayak."

"Coming out of the forum, I would like to see a number of ideas that we can develop into tangible action over the coming years."

Balancing the Boat is one of two open forums at the 2017 Annual Conference. Following the release of World Sailing's Sustainability Strategy in 2016, World Sailing will be announcing Sustainability Agenda 2030 at the self-titled forum whereby key objectives for the sport to be achieved by 2030 will be released.

Both forums will be held alongside World Sailing's 2017 Annual Conference which commences on Saturday 4 November and runs through to Sunday 12 November. The forums, two days of Council meetings and the Annual General Meeting will be streamed live across the World Sailing Network.

The overarching theme of the 2017 Annual Conference is 'Uniting Our Sport'. Sailing's stakeholders will be working together to grow and develop the sport to ensure millions more people fall in love with sailing.

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