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Sir Ben Ainslie and Hannah Mills OBE launch new climate education platform

by GBR SailGP Team 24 Mar 08:58 GMT
Great Britain SailGP Team in action onboard their newly branded F50 catamaran along with Great Britain Inspire Racing x WASPZ sailor Hattie Rogers sitting behind Ben Ainslie during a practice session ahead of San Francisco SailGP, Season 2 © Jed Jacobsohn for SailGP

Sir Ben Ainslie, Hannah Mills OBE and the Great Britain SailGP Team have declared their ambition to help over 1 million young people take action to protect nature, people and the planet as the new Protect Our Future climate education platform was launched with the team's Charity partner, 1851 Trust.

The programme aims to empower and equip young people and educators with skills and knowledge to understand climate science and take positive action.

Ainslie and Mills, the world's most successful Olympic sailing athletes, lead the British team in SailGP, the first global climate-positive sports league, where the teams compete for victory both on and off the water. In San Francisco ahead of the final SailGP event of season, the battle is on to win not only a $1m prize fund on the water, but also the Impact League, a first of its kind competition in professional sport. Winning the Impact League, which sees each team assessed on the action they take to reduce their impact on our planet and encouraged to be innovative, collaborative and vocal about their efforts, secures funding for the teams' chosen #RaceForTheFuture purpose partner.

The Great Britain SailGP Team aims to use its sporting platform to play their part in the vital action needed to tackle the climate emergency. Change will only be achieved through collaboration and the British team will use their influence and voice as they compete across the globe to achieve this ambitious target.

The British team is also launching a new partner programme, COLAB, which will bring together companies from different industry sectors to drive positive change and behaviours, supporting the team's ambition to win the SailGP Season 3 Impact League. The innovations which will come out of this COLAB will feed directly into the education resources on the Protect Our Future platform. The GREAT Britain and Northern Ireland Campaign, of which Ben Ainslie is an ambassador, will help the team achieve their purpose-led goal and take their message to communities around the globe.

Ben Ainslie took to the water earlier today at the helm of the team's new-look flying F50 boat. Its inspiration is taken from the reindeer cyclone, a spectacular phenomenon of nature that sees the herd come together to form a moving circle to protect their young and vulnerable, with colours inspired by the flying fish, highlighting the need to protect our pitch, our oceans. "No one person or company has the answers to the global issues we are facing. Collaboration is key and we want to use our sporting success to work alongside new partners to support our ambition of accelerating change and empowering young people to drive positive impacts in their schools, communities and homes."

As announced by the UK Government late last year, climate and sustainability education is set to become part of the UK school curriculum before 2023. The Protect Our Future climate education platform, an early 'beta' version of which has launched today, aims to inspire and help young people to go beyond the headlines and understand their role in tackling climate change. The Great Britain SailGP Team, together with the 1851 Trust, is now aiming to work with new partners to turn this vision into a reality.

New research amongst 11-16-year-olds commissioned by 1851 Trust and environmental charity Hubbub reveals that more than half of children (51%) are worried about what the planet will be like in the future. The research also found that almost a third (31%) say they are unclear on what measures they can take to be more environmentally friendly, which is acting as a barrier to the taking action. Only 17% feel climate change is something they can fix, while 14% said they don't feel like their actions will make a difference. Teachers are also feeling similarly at a loss as to what they can do to support learning in this area, with 70% saying they do not feel equipped to teach about climate change effectively.

Hannah Mills, double Olympic gold medallist and IOC Sustainability Ambassador, added: "Our planet is at a tipping point and young people are the key to protecting its future. We are not doing enough to empower young people. We need to go beyond the climate headlines and equip them with science-based knowledge and understanding."

SailGP Season 2 culminates this weekend in San Francisco, the British outfit will be looking for a change in fortune after their collision with the Japan SailGP Team last time out in Sydney. Hannah Mills and grinder Rich Mason return with the rest of the squad line-up remaining the same; Driver Ben Ainslie back behind the wheel, Olympic gold Medallist Iain Jensen on Wing Trim, fellow Aussie Luke Parkinson on flight controls, British duo Neil Hunter and Matt Gotrel on the grinding handles and Hannah Diamond returning as strategist.

The Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix will play host to the championship league's Grand Final on March 26-27, 2022 in San Francisco with the eight-nation fleet vying for the highly coveted $1 million top prize. The crash in Sydney means it's almost impossible for the British team to win the overall racing championship, but they are in second place overall in the Impact League with the winner announced after racing on Sunday.

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