Two of the world’s top young foiling talent – Hattie Rogers from Great Britain and Sean Herbert from New Zealand – took home the ultimate prize at the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix after winning the first-ever SailGP Inspire WASZP Grand Final ‘Championship of Champions.’
Sharing the same waters as SailGP’s F50s, the WASZP Grand Final invited back all of the event winners throughout SailGP Season 2 to face-off in the ultimate contest to see who would be crowned the overall SailGP Inspire WASZP racing champions and win the ultimate bragging rights.
The young athletes – comprising 50:50 male / female split – had either won a SailGP Inspire Racing event from earlier in the season or been selected by team countries through established sailing programs, ensuring the brightest sailing talent from across the world and an incredibly high standard of racing.
After a thrilling weekend of racing, it was Rogers and Herbert who came out on top. In the female event Rogers battled throughout with Pearl Lattazni representing the USA and Mathilde Robertstad representing Norway. All performed brilliantly in brisk winds in San Francisco Bay, but after taking the lead on Saturday, Rogers remained calm on Sunday, keeping leeward of the fleet on her starts and controlling the first reach into the downward slalom on the three races to take the overall win. Robertstad fought hard to finish second in the event and Lattazni was third to complete the podium.
In the male competition, there were multiple national champions in contention, with racing coming down to who could stay on the foils most consistently. Herbert from New Zealand managed to do that slightly better than his rivals, and despite his height, moved elegantly around the WASZP with his distinctive and effective gybing technique allowing him to dominate the SailGP format. Day one leader Jaime Framis Harguindey from Spain finished the weekend in second place, with Eliott Savelon from the Netherlands – representing France – finished third.
Rogers said: “The last week in San Francisco has been one of the best weeks of my life. I would like to thank my family, my sponsors, the Royal Lymington Yacht Club, the RYA and all the coaches over the years for the opportunities they have given me, which have all helped me to get to where I am now. The SailGP Inspire WASZP circuit is undoubtedly the most inspirational youth circuit in the world and I feel very privileged to have been part of the first ever Grand Final. This event has demonstrated the art of the possible and genuinely promotes the next generation on the global stage. I can’t wait for the next chapter, wherever that may take me. Thank you SailGP for the most extraordinary opportunity!”
Herbert said: “I am stoked to come away with the win in the Grand Finals, what an experience! It was an excellent group of sailors with really close racing that came down to the wire. The atmosphere around the event on and off the water was incredible. SailGP and Inspire turned it on for the event, and I want to say a big thank you to all the sponsors for making it happen.”
SailGP Youth Program Manager Tom Herbert-Evans said: “What a Grand Final! Without a doubt we saw the stars of the future on the water. Hattie and Sean were cool, calm and showed incredible talent and poise over the weekend to take the crowns. There were also notable performances from Neus Ballaster Bover from Spain, Brooke Wilson from Australia and Rinko Goto from Japan. Lenhart Frohmann from Denmark and each of the male athletes having moments of glory. It’s clear by the talent and performance across these foiling classes that there is a real shift in the skills and sport of sailing, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for all the sailors!”
Marc Ablett, General Manager of WASZP, said: “What an unbelievable week! To be able to see the growth in all the sailors from their qualifying event in their home country, right through to competing on a global stage in San Francisco has been amazing. To see Hattie announce herself to the world by filling in on the F50 training days and then winning the female competition just shows what happens when you grab an opportunity, but that opportunity doesn’t exist without the work we are doing with SailGP in this space. We are about creating opportunities outside the norm, inspiring all sailors no matter their background and building good people along the way. Culture is crucial to us and SailGP has done an amazing job to change how the sport is perceived at this level.”
SailGP’s Inspire Racing program aims to make foiling more accessible and connect young athletes with the highest level of sailing in the world. It offers opportunities to get behind the scenes, meet the world’s best athletes and take part in a racing program on the F50 race course.
As part of their prize both Rogers and Herbert will be joining their respective teams in Season 3 for an incredible opportunity, learning directly from the team’s athletes, shore team and coaches. They also will have the chance to experience life on board the most exciting racing on water by gaining exclusive access to sailing on board the F50. In addition, they both won a SailGP cash grant to be used towards their professional sailing development. Second and third places also received funding for further development. All competitors received a kit bag, impact vest, race bibs and rash top which were all sponsored by apparel partner Rooster Sailing.