CHICAGO - JUNE 10, 2022 - Chicago’s famous Navy Pier will soon be the site of exciting SailGP programs supporting youth sailing activities and work experiences, both on and off the water. Inspire, the global league’s community outreach program, engages youth between the ages nine to 23 years old to increase accessibility to the sport of sailing in a multifaceted environment, presenting pathways for future elite athletes and career development.
The City of Chicago and Chicago Sports Commission (CSC) are actively involved with the Inspire program for the Chicago event. According to CSC’s Executive Director, Kara Bachman, “We are thrilled to support SailGP Inspire initiatives, which provide exposure to STEM education and the sport of sailing, and offer incredible work experiences to youth from neighborhoods around Chicago.”
“Chicago will welcome fans and athletes from around the world for this inaugural SailGP event – and when an event brings people to our great city and provides valuable opportunities for engagement with the local community, it’s truly a win-win in our book.”
In an effort to impact 10,000 youth by 2025, SailGP’s Inspire program has three pathways - Inspire Learning, Careers, and Racing, to ensure youth from diverse backgrounds have more opportunities to access the sport. To date, the program has engaged 8,556 youth, with many continuing their journeys as athletes, and as other sailing industry professionals.
Building on the momentum of its successful Season 3 start in Bermuda, Inspire participants will experience a highly engaging series of activities June 13 - June 19, culminating with the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix in Chicago on June 18-19.
The Inspire Learning program places an emphasis on the science of sailing. Its hands-on STEM-based modules will introduce approximately 300 young minds from the Chicago area to the power of nature and how Wind, Water, and Solar elements are used during racing.
SailGP’s league expansion extends beyond the number of teams added to the roster for Season 3. Rolling into Chicago with 20 opportunities for male and female youth under 23 opens the door for a variety of roles which support the league and the teams alike, while providing access to unique work experiences that may otherwise be unavailable.
Shore Team positions will be filled by the following six Chicago-based candidates: George Barton (USA), Canyon Robinson (FRA), Elias Erling (GBR), Caroline O’Malley (NZL), Graeme Classen (ESP), and Marina Hutzler (SUI), along with three Canadian candidates: Madeline Gillis (AUS), Phoebe Chalmers (DEN), James Gosnell (CAN).
Madeline Gillis from Nova Scotia said, “I am thrilled to be working with the Australian Shore Team for the upcoming SailGP event in Chicago. As a young sailor in the Olympic Class Nacra17, I am so excited for the knowledge and experience the Inspire Careers program will provide me that I just cannot replicate in my own training or racing. I look forward to this opportunity and the opportunities ahead!”
Elias Erling born and raised in Chicago said, “I think that it's a great honor to be able to work so closely with a SailGP team especially whilst representing Jackson Park Yacht Club. The people at Jackson Park have given me lots of opportunity to show who I am to a broader sailing world. It's not just about sailing here in Chicago or in the Midwest, but about international sailing. I’m excited to work with the British team. I hope working with the shore crew will give me a new perspective on how through sailing, new ideas and solutions can be found. Diversity is a really big part of Jackson Park and I think with diverse perspectives comes greater innovation, so that is what I want to learn most about, what Great Britain does differently and how I can fit into that.”
Technical roles present six additional opportunities for the following Chicago based youth: Dylan Hardt (Boat Building), Meredith McIntosh (Race Management), Joshua Anthony (Onboard Communications), and Jack Joslin (Tech Site Coordinator) and two of which are from Canada: Jasper Waldman (Wing Department), Mitchell Stewart (Hydraulics).
On-shore positions will see four more candidates support the following areas: Kate Lenhard (Sustainability), Douglas Wake (Photography), Harry Kaya Prager (Videography), and Breanna Jager (Medical Coordinator).
Lake Michigan will set the scene for exciting on-water action as 36 young sailors - male and female - compete for the first time just off of Navy Pier aboard WASZP and RS FEVA class boats. Local crowds will be treated to a preview of the future of sailing as the Inspire program pushes forward with the league’s Better Sport initiatives.
SailGP Inspire x WASZP
Candidates hailing from both the United States and Canada will complete the 16 sailor lineup for the Chicago event. Representing the U.S. will be Olivia Schmitt, Grace Renz, Gavin Ball, Ben Rosenberg, Thomas Sitzmann, Elizabeth Frost, Kiley Freitas, JP Lattanzi, Parker Moore, and Henry Scholz.
Canada will be represented by Rebecca Heller, Lilly Rainham, Galen Richardson, Elsie Gillis, Saskia van Hell, and Jackson Macaulay.
The top male and female winner will qualify to compete at the Season 3 Inspire WASZP Grand Final - Championship of Champions - in San Francisco, scheduled for May 2023.
SailGP Inspire Adopt-a-Club and RS FEVA
Community initiatives through Inspire have been another growth area for the program during the previous season. In Season 3, teams and local sailing clubs have even more of an opportunity to connect both youth athletes and team professionals through the Adopt-a-Club program.
Club members and their youth sailing programs now have an additional avenue to engage with their partner teams. Theme nights, virtual seminars, tech tours, and ultimately two nominations from each club - one male and one female - to participate in the RS FEVA racing competition are on the cards for the second event of Season 3.
The SailGP Team and club pairings for Chicago include: Australia and Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club; Canada and Sheboygan Youth Sailing Center; Denmark and Columbia Sailing School; Spain and Waukegan Yacht Club; France and Chicago Park District; Great Britain and Jackson Park Yacht Club Foundation; Japan and Lake Forest Sailing; New Zealand and Sheridan Shore Sailing School; Switzerland and Racine Yacht Club; and United States and Chicago Yacht Club.
Successful candidates for the RS Feva racing event taking place in front of a home crowd include the following youth sailors: Emery Sularz and JP Crabb for Chicago Yacht Club; Frank Ribich and Ellison Leonhard for Sheboygan Youth Sailing Center; Peter Stewart and Lydia Frost for Columbia Sailing School; Wes Larue and Elisa Drouhard for Waukegan Yacht Club; Jillian Drake and Alejandro Ceron for Chicago Park District; Paul Thompson and Akousa Haynes for Jackson Park Youth Foundation; Owen Kohut and Maddie Rode for Lake Forest Sailing; Jakub Fuja and Olivia Chigas for Sheridan Shore Sailing School; and Beckett Sabanosh and Jessenia Garcia for Racine Yacht Club.