This past summer, the U.S. SailGP Team began accepting applications from community sailing organizations interested in partnering with it as part of the SailGP “Foiling First” program—an initiative advancing diversity and inclusion in the sport of sailing through a first-ever professional pathway to foiling in the United States.
At press time, the U.S. team had also recently formalized its inaugural Foiling First partnership with the Rhode Island-based Bristol Yacht Club/East Bay Sailing Foundation (EBSF—eastbaysailingfoundation.org), which resulted in a two-day “Learn to Foil” camp in late July in cooperation with Wisconsin’s Melges Performance Sailboats (which recently began marketing a new line of full-foiling scows expressly designed to get newbie sailors airborne, the Skeeta and Nikki: see SAIL’s 2022 Best Boats Preview.
“Since launching Foiling First we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the American sailing community,” said U.S. SailGP Team CEO Jimmy Spithill of America’s Cup fame as press time. “We’re looking forward to working with Bristol Yacht Club/East Bay Sailing Foundation, and we’re excited to invite more organizations to join. It’s really encouraging to see communities ready to participate in change on and off the water.”
“Kids want to learn how to race foiling boats and compete like the pros do,” said Kristin Browne of the East Bay Sailing Foundation. “At the same time, as a club, we want to contribute to making our sport more inclusive and we’re excited to partner with Foiling First and the U.S. SailGP Team to help begin that change.”
Launched in 2019, SailGP has quickly become one of the premiere professional sailing leagues in the world, with top-flight sailors—including many of today’s leading Olympic and America’s Cup sailors—racing on inshore stadium-style courses aboard full-foiling F50 catamarans at speeds of 40 knots and more in pursuit of $1 million in prize money. The 2021-22 season, which kicked off this past April in Bermuda, will see eight international teams travelling from Europe to Australia to New Zealand and the United States, where the final regatta of the nine-event series will be held on San Francisco Bay March 26-27.
The “Foiling First” program is the latest installment in what SailGP calls its “Inspire” initiative, a program designed to promote inclusivity and environmental awareness in young sailors in those same places it does its racing. In the first year of the program, more than 3,000 young sailors took part, sailing aboard everything from Waszp full-foiling monhull dinghies to performance beach cats from Britain’s RS Sailing. The goal is to reach out to more than 10,000 young people by 2025.
For more on Foiling First, including how to apply to become a part of the partnership program or take part in a learn-to-foil camp, go to foilingfirst.com. For the latest on the U.S. SailGP Team, SailGP and the 2021-22 championship series, go to sailgp.com.