The best young male and female sailing athletes in the world have been crowned WASZP Grand Final winners at the SailGP Inspire Championship of Champions on San Francisco Bay.
New Zealand’s Stella Bilger and Gavin Ball of the United States were crowned the top female and male athletes after going head to head against the winners from each qualifying event.
Bilger staked a definitive victory, with an impressive 19 lead on runner up Rachael Betschart from Bermuda. Meanwhile Ball finished nine points ahead of Duncan Gregor from the United Kingdom.
Speaking about his racing, Ball said his contest with Gregor was ‘really tight’. “We were going back and forth and it was just a few mistakes on his part that allowed me to stay up and away.”
He added that he ‘didn’t have the words’ to describe the experience of winning. “It hasn’t sunk in yet - it’s been straight smiles ever since and that’ll probably last for the rest of the week.”
Bilger added that she had ‘an amazing day’ racing on San Francisco Bay.
“It was such an awesome day out there - it was pretty gusty but it went but it went well, jibing under pressure and trying not to get into peoples’ way,” she said. “I’m jus fizzing about the racing.”
Winning the event will prove a major springboard to the aspiring athletes - both will receive the incredible money-can’t-buy immersive experience of joining one of the SailGP Teams in Season 4 and the opportunity to ride on an F50.
Speaking about the opportunity to sail with the American team, Ball said: “It’s completely insane. I mean a trial on the boat, I don’t know how much more of a pathway it could be.”
Inspire Racing x WASZP is a world-class program that provides a stepping stone for under 21s to develop foiling skills and create a pathway to SailGP’s F50 catamarans.
It has a strong focus on inclusivity – aiming to diversify sailing through its programs to foster talent and eliminate gender, racial and socioeconomic barriers.