In just four days, Switzerland SailGP Team will make their racing debut in SailGP, the purpose-led global racing league. The team will be racing with an important call to action for their competitors and fans world-wide; to ‘#BacktheBid’ to see the sport of sailing reinstated in the Paralympic Games in time for LA28.
Switzerland SailGP Team is supported by its main partner and Race for the Future partner, the VI Foundation. The VI foundation champions equal opportunities to achieve and is focused on giving disabled people improved quality of life, better health, increased self-esteem, and the opportunity to become more integrated. Sport is at the heart of their operations.
World Sailing officially launched its reinstatement bid for the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games last October. Together, Switzerland SailGP Team and the VI Foundation will use SailGP’s platform to amplify the governing body’s #BacktheBid #SailtoLA campaign, taking the message to some of the world’s most iconic waterfront locations alongside broadcasting it internationally in over 175 territories.
Para Sailing was a successful Paralympic sport for five consecutive Games from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016. In 2015, it was announced that Para Sailing was being dropped from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, where 22 sports were contested, [compared to 33 in the Olympics].
Focusing on diversity, inclusion, affordability, development, and increasing the number of open and Para Sailing events, World Sailing have outlined a number of strategic priorities to support the growth of the sport by 2023, which includes increasing worldwide participation to 45 nations on six continents. 2022 is critical for the #BacktheBid campaign - this year the International Paralympic Committee will decide which sports make it onto the Los Angeles 2028 Paralympic Games programme.
Bjørnar Erikstad is Norway's top Paralympic sailor. Erikstad competed at four Paralympic Games between 2004 – 2016 and is a VI Foundation Ambassador. He also works for the Foundation. “Sailing is a unique sport since it is not always the sailor with the best physical skills who wins.
“Sailing is also about understanding the wind and sea. For me that’s one of the best ways to show equal opportunities – that we can all sail in a boat that does not demand only physical skills but yet deliver fantastic racing.”
Para Sailing is open to athletes with many types of physical, sensory or intellectual impairments. Three classes are currently selected for the Paralympic Games pathway and qualifying international events; the 2.4mR (single person, male or female), the RS Venture Connect (two-person, mixed crew) and the Hansa 303 (single person, male or female).
Throughout Season 3, SailGP SUI look forward to developing projects that build on including more inclusivity within the sport. SailGP CEO Tanguy Cariou,“The whole SailGP SUI team back the bid and we are proud to support World Sailing’s campaign and take this message with us as we compete around the world.
“It is a really important goal for us as sailors and for our sport - let’s all get behind it and see sailing reinstated in the Paralympics for LA28!.”
After the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess this weekend (May 14-15), the team will race in the United States Sail Grand Prix in Chicago before heading closer to home, with four events in Europe this summer.