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With the SailGP Cowes dates now confirmed for 2020, it is time to look back on this summer and the community legacy left behind by the fast-paced event.

During the SailGP event at Cowes, organisers launched the foundation phase of a community, education and outreach initiative – SailGP Inspire. The initiative broadens access to the sport, offers a career pathway and aims to leave a meaningful legacy in host venues.

SailGP Inspire comprises of 3 innovative programmes – Learning, Careers and Racing – giving young people aged between 9 and 23 from all backgrounds, life-changing opportunities on and off the water. The 6 helmsmen of the new global league joined the maiden group of youth participants at Cowes for the programme aimed at using sailing as a force for good.

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Supported by 4 founding partners – boat suppliers RS Sailing and WASZP, technical clothing provider Rooster and robotic mark producer MarkSetBot – SailGP is on track to really help communities.

RS Sailing will provide the catamarans for young people being introduced to sailing for the first time. From 2020 onward, WASZP will provide an opportunity for high-performing youth sailors to receive instruction in race foiling boats and offer a pathway to international competition. Rooster will serve as the official technical clothing supplier and the environmentally friendly MarkSetBots will be used to set on-water courses.

Sir Russell Coutts, SailGP CEO, says:

“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. 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.

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“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 four fantastic partners.”

At each event, SailGP Inspire will join with local partners to ensure opportunity and legacy within the local community. For the programme’s launch during Cowes SailGP, SailGP Inspire partnered with UKSA and the Royal Yachting Association.

48 schoolchildren participated in the Learning programme during SailGP at Cowes, with the first half of each day spent participating in onshore activities that demonstrated the science behind sailing while afternoons consisted of intro-to-sailing sessions.

9 local sailing clubs (RYA South Zone) selected a boy and girl (aged 13-15) to participate in the RS Sailing in front of the SailGP Race Village at Cowes and £2 from every ticket sold at Cowes SailGP was donated to UKSA.

Ben Willows of UKSA says:

“We are so pleased and excited to be partnering with SailGP to deliver the Inspire programme here in the UK.

“UKSA is absolutely committed to supporting the most deserving young people and children here in 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.”

As previously reported by Island Echo, SailGP will take place at Cowes on 14th/15th August 2020. These dates are at the end of Cowes Week and will see many of the sailors taking part hotfoot from the Olympic Games which are being held in Japan from 24th July to 9th August.

Report and photos by Alan & Suzanne Whitewood

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