Canadian sailor Madeline Gillis has revealed how her experience as a shore team intern in Chicago turned into jumping on board the F50 to train with the Canada SailGP Team in Dubai.
A keen sailor since the age of six, Madeline trains full time in the Nacra17 and first stepped inside the world of SailGP by landing a shore team internship with Australia through SailGP’s Inspire program.
This involved assisting the team’s shore crew during the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix, picking up ‘hands-on experience’ on the F50, and learning ‘the ins and outs of the daily routine on base’.
The experience offered ‘a tremendous first glimpse into the world of SailGP’, Madeline said, ‘from the perspective of an aspiring future athlete, it gave me a taste of the action, and reconfirmed that this was where I wanted to be’.
One key highlight, she said, was joining the team on the support RIB and listening to the team’s on board communication during training and racing.
“The communication within the team was swift, and I took heaps away to apply to my own playbook in the Nacra17,” she said. “Leaving the Chicago SailGP event, I felt so thankful, inspired and hungry for more.”
Luckily, Madeline didn’t have to wait long. In October, Canada driver Phil Robertson personally invited her to CANFOIL week - a development camp for the Canada SailGP Team with a few selected Canadian sailors. The camp allowed Madeline to further develop her foiling skills on and off the water alongside members of the Canada SailGP Team.
“Despite being in the midst of completing my final year of university, I jumped at this opportunity and I’m so glad that I did,” she said.
Just a few weeks after the camp, Madeline was again contacted by Robertson, who invited her to attend the team’s five-day training schedule ahead of the Dubai Sail Grand Prix.
This allowed Madeline to step on board the Canadian F50, spending time training in the strategist role, as well as grinding and driving.
“A highlight of the week was definitely on my first day of training when I was on the F50 as strategist while Georgia (Lewin-LaFrance) was on board in flight control,” Madeline said, “That felt like a huge step in the right direction for women in sailing.”