Chicago, IL , 15-20 June 2022– Sail1Design is here in the beautiful city of Chicago to catch the SailGP Tour’s stop at Chicago Yacht Club and also to check out SailGP’s “Inspire” program. At first glance (and what most people likely only ever see or hear about) SailGP looks quite simply like an exotic, high-flying foiling catamaran race league, featuring sailing’s very best professional sailors competing on this tour as they eye opportunities to sail in the next America’s Cup. Accurate? Yes. A complete definition of SailGP? Not at all. In doing a little reading up, and chatting here on the sidelines, I learned a bit more about this organization and came away with a much better understanding and appreciation for it’s multi-layered mission. Here’s the short of it:
- Clean Energy Roadmaps (#poweredbynature) SailGP’s target is to accelerate the transition to clean energy and be the most sustainable and purpose-driven sports and entertainment property. SailGP’s aim is to become a global benchmark for clean energy events, to launch a new era of sustainable events powered by clean energy.
- Racing For a Better Future (Impact League) Introduced for SailGP Season 2, the Impact League tracks the positive actions our teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing.
- Community Education & Outreach (Inspire Program) Inspire is SailGP’s community, education and outreach initiative, powered by our belief that sailing can be a force for good, Powered by Nature, Driven by Purpose. Our goal: To leave a positive legacy and build a sustainable sport – by providing equal, life-changing opportunities and new career pathways for all, regardless of race or socioeconomic background. SailGP Inspire aims to serve a leading role in helping to diversify the sport of sailing for youth without race, gender, and socioeconomic status presenting a barrier to entry. The Inspire program has 3 pathways:
- Inspire Learning Using sailing to educate and inspire youth about sustainability and the power of nature. School program delivered in advance of each event, using resources that bring sustainability to life through STEM-based modules.
- Inspire Careers Providing young adults with a unique opportunity and pathway into the sports, events and engineering industries. Targeting young adults (18-23 years) with an interest in sports, sustainability, technology and engineering.
- Inspire Racing World-class program to identify the next generation of diverse high-performance sailors in each host city – providing a unique experience and making foiling accessible. Local and international sailors selected through the host governing body and WASZP Class association.
Yes, that’s the short of it….lot’s on here! So, SailGP has identified a both noble and ambitious mission. I honed in on just one part, Inspire Program’s “Inspire Racing.” On opening day,
Wednesday, we found a really cool container/trailer, just next to Chicago Yacht Club, opened up with gear and 8 Waszp single-handed foiling boats lined up, ready for the 16 youth entries
that filtered in to their first meeting. SailGP provides training and then a regatta for them, in some cases having the waszps sail in the same area as the F50’s…. cool!
INSPIRE RACING CORE MISSION
- World-class program to identify the next generation of diverse high-performance sailors in each host city – providing a unique experience and making foiling accessible
- Focus on selecting and training a group of sailors from outside traditional settings
- Local and international sailors selected through the host governing body and WASZP Class association
- Training clinic in the lead-up to the event with professional foiling coaches
- Racing during SailGP events on the official racecourses
- Strong legacy through providing equipment and training, and ultimately as a pathway to professional sailing
After the 16 sailors were divided up into Gold/Silver fleets, the Gold fleet had a chance to show their stuff in front of the Navy Pier crowd, and Saturday’s conditions were good for racing. Unfortunately the wind on Sunday was too light (in fact the F50’s had to race outside the jetty), so the Inspire regatta was cut short.
Afterwards, all Inspire racing sailors had a chance to be recognized on the main stage, and also met the winning F50 team… Tom Slingsby & Australia!