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SailGP stars take to the water to kick off future-focused Inspire program

by SailGP 9 Aug 21:14 BST 9 August 2019
Rooster announced as Official Technical Clothing Provider to the Sail GP Inspire Programme © Thomas Lovelock for SailGP

As part of its commitment to sustainable development, SailGP officially launched the foundation phase of a robust community, education and outreach initiative - SailGP Inspire. The six helmsmen of the new global league joined the maiden group of youth participants for the program aimed at using sailing as a force for good. SailGP Inspire broadens access to the sport, offers a career pathway and aims to leave a meaningful legacy in SailGP host cities.

SailGP Inspire is comprised of three innovative programmes - Learning, Careers and Racing - giving young girls, boys, women and men (ages 9-23) from all backgrounds life-changing opportunities on and off the water.

SailGP Inspire is supported by four founding partners - boat suppliers RS Sailing and WASZP, technical clothing provider Rooster and robotic mark producer MarkSetBot. RS Sailing will provide the catamarans that will serve as the platform for youth being introduced to sailing for the first time, as well as the racing program for junior sailors at each SailGP event. From 2020 onward, WASZP will provide an opportunity for high-performing youth sailors to receive instruction and race foiling boats at SailGP events, while also offering a pathway to international competition. Rooster will serve as the official technical clothing supplier to SailGP Inspire, and the revolutionary and environmentally friendly MarkSetBots will be used to set on-water courses for the programme.

"Equally important to building a sustainable, professional high-performance league is creating a pathway for young people to learn and develop experience for a future in sailing," said SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts. "We're aiming to ignite a passion in the next generation in a fun and experiential way, with a goal of delivering one of the most progressive youth initiatives in our sport.

"There are many young sailors out there who are very capable of sailing high-performance boats, but they often don't get the opportunity. We are hoping to stimulate a new wave of youth development, and look forward to helping to shape an exciting new future alongside our fantastic partners - RS Sailing, WASZP, Rooster and MarkSetBot."

"The beauty and freedom of our sport is surreal - we are emerged in nature with always changing opportunities," said Great Britain SailGP Team helmsman Fletcher. "This is athletic excellence mixed with challenging the mind; we are always learning new techniques, analysing, prioritising and adapting - all skills that help with growth and development. Being able to share our passion with young people is incredibly rewarding, as we mix fun and education while ensuring a future for our sport."

SailGP Inspire's Learning program aims to provide local youth with the ultimate education experience through sailing. For two days leading up to each SailGP event, students will receive a hands-on learning experience using experiential STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education, problem solving and intro-to-sailing sessions on the water. In addition, as an extension of the Learning program, local youth sailors will be offered the opportunity to participate in a pre-show - 'the Rippers' - on each SailGP race day. The male and female participants (50-50 split) will be selected in coordination with local sailing associations in each market, showcasing their talents in front of SailGP crowds and on big screens in the Race Villages.

Next, the Careers program is aimed at students 16 years old and above who are interested in the sports and/or marine industries. It introduces young men and women to professional careers in 10 areas throughout SailGP, highlighting the various professional pathways that are available, and leaving a lasting legacy for the candidates involved.

Finally, the Racing program is set to launch in 2020 and will be an intermediate program geared toward young competitive sailors with an interest in hydrofoiling and racing. Each season, one girl and one boy will be funded to compete at the International WASZP Games to further broaden their experience.

SailGP Inspire will also offer community-based technical tours that explore the science of sailing and provide students with exclusive behind-the-scenes access. In addition, SailGP Race Villages will provide hands-on opportunities for visitors to enjoy educational activations courtesy of SailGP Inspire.

At each event, SailGP Inspire will join with local partners to ensure opportunity and legacy within the local community. For the program's launch during Cowes SailGP, SailGP Inspire partnered with the United Kingdom Sailing Academy and the Royal Yachting Association.

Yesterday and today (August 8-9), a total of 48 local schoolchildren are participating in the Learning program, with the first half of each day spent participating in onshore activations that demonstrate the science behind sailing. The afternoons will consist of intro-to-sailing sessions onboard RS Cat 14 boats. In addition, tours were given to both the RYA Onboard program and students from the Isle of Wight College.

Nine local sailing clubs each selected one boy and one girl (ages 13-15) from the RYA South Zone regional performance clubs to participate in the Rippers racing in front of the SailGP Race Village and Grandstand. Meanwhile, 11 young adults from the Isle of Wight College and other local universities are shadowing some of the most fascinating careers within SailGP - boat building, rigging and hydraulics; on-water management; media operations and communications; and hospitality.

Finally, £2 from every ticket sold to Cowes SailGP is being donated to UKSA. In addition, UKSA is auctioning four major experiences for winners to collect over the weekend, including a Guest Chaser Experience package, a private tour and meet & greet with the Great Britain SailGP Team, tickets to see SailGP's European debut, and the ultra-exclusive Sixth Sailor Experience that includes a ride onboard the revolutionary F50 catamaran.

"We are so pleased and excited to be partnering with SailGP to deliver the Inspire programme here in the UK," said UKSA CEO Ben Willows. "UKSA is absolutely committed to supporting the most deserving young people and children here on Cowes to be able to access the amazing experiences and opportunities that being on the water provides. Together, we are aiming to continue to offer every year 6 child on the island a sailing session at UKSA through our Test the Water programme. It is great to see SailGP supporting the local community here in Cowes and on the island, and we look forward to working with SailGP over the next few years as this event and partnership continues to develop and grow."

More information about SailGP Inspire can be found at SailGP.com/Inspire.

Sponsor Quotes:

Jon Partridge, CEO, RS Sailing: "RS Sailing is excited by any program that will inspire the next generation of sailors, so when Russell Coutts asked if we would like to get involved with SailGP Inspire, there was only one answer. We believe this programme will introduce young people to our sport, give up-and-coming young sailors an opportunity to race in front of a crowd, and create memories that will last a lifetime. It is an honour to partner with an organisation that is going to redefine the sport of sailing."

Marc Ablett, Manager Global Sales, WASZP: "WASZP is excited to partner with SailGP Inspire for 2020 and beyond. Together we will provide a high-performance pathway for the youth of today, allowing them to access foiling and help promote frontline technology for the next generation."

Kevin Morin, Founder, MarkSetBot: "We couldn't be more thrilled to be involved with SailGP Inspire. Our mission is to grow sailing through technology and there is no organization or outreach initiative doing this better than SailGP. Jointly, our aim is to better improve the use of energy in sustaining our sport for future generations."

Luke Morrison, Director, Rooster Ltd: "We love supporting initiatives that involve such an important demographic in our sport: young people. They are influenced by what our sport does and of course how exciting we can make it. SailGP Inspire is a fantastic extension of the SailGP brand, recognising their need to not just facilitate high octane sailing, but recognising that without young people, sailing would be in a much different place from where it is today. Rooster aims to encourage, educate and facilitate the success of these programmes."

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