Ahead of the upcoming KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix taking place on the iconic Sydney Harbour this month, members of the Australia SailGP Team surprised the local sailing community by visiting the annual Hardy Cup International Match Racing Regatta for a special meet and greet.
Hosted by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS), the Hardy Cup is one of Australia’s most anticipated match racing events of the year, where 10 upcoming youth match racing teams are invited to compete at the World Sailing Grade 3 event and will represent six yacht clubs from Ireland, New Zealand, Western Australia, and New South Wales.
Held in honour of well-known yachtsman and dual Olympian, Sir James Hardy OBE, the event is aimed at further developing the match racing and tactical skills of youth sailors. Aiming to inspire the next generation, and showing them what can be achieved in the sport on a global scale, Australia SailGP Team crew members, Sam Newton and Nina Curtis attended an intimate Q&A for Hardy Cup competitors and RSYS club members.
Guests heard Sam and Nina reflect on their decorated sailing careers to date and spoke to the successes and challenges they face as high-performance athletes on their journeys to becoming three-time SailGP Champions as part of the Australia SailGP Team.
Sam Newton, 2013 America’s Cup winner and Australia Team grinder said: “Clubs like the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron are the lifeblood of our sport, and events like the Hardy Cup play a huge part in developing pathways for promising youth sailors.
“It’s important that we do what we can to both support them, and also demonstrate how a bit of talent, hard work and belief can lead to incredible experiences as a sailor.” Named the Australian Female Sailor of the Year in 2010, Nina Curtis joined the Australia SailGP Team in Season 2 as strategist, progressing through the Women's Pathway Program onto the Flying Roo. She made history as the first female athlete to win a SailGP event, in Cadiz, before helping the Aussies clinch the Season 2 Championship by winning the Grand Final in San Francisco.
Curtis said: “It was a fantastic experience meeting the young sailors and members, umpires and volunteers of RSYS and the wider sailing community today. I have no doubt some of these sailors will be hunting for our spots on the Flying Roo in a few years time."
Sailing from the age she could walk on her home waters in Pittwater, Nina competed in her first international Match Racing Regatta at the age of 15. She is also Hardy Cup alumni, having made history being part of the first all-female team to win the event in 2018.
Sharing that vision of inspiring the next generation is Christian Brook, Commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Christian said: “We were delighted to have the incredible Sam and Nina join us tonight as we welcome so many international and interstate teams taking part in this year’s regatta. This continued global interest highlights the importance of the Hardy Cup as a launch pad for
youth sailors into the international circuit, which we know SailGP has a great deal of involvement in too.
As part of SailGP’s community, education and outreach initiative, SailGP Inspire, all 10 competing nations in the league will be involved in the Inspire Adopt-a-Club program, recognising that sailing organisations and clubs are the entry point for many young people to a world of on-water activities.
The RSYS was one of the lucky sailing clubs recently selected for the 2024 Adopt-a-Club program and is paired with the Switzerland SailGP Team.
“We can’t wait to cheer on the Suisse Team, and of course Tom Slingsby and the Aussies, at the SailGP Sydney event later this month,” Christian said.
Thousands of Australian fans are expected to descend on Sydney Harbour to witness the Australia Team compete against nine rival nations. Led by Tom Slingsby, the Aussies will be aiming to extend its lead at the top of the Season 4 leaderboard, on its way to a potential fourth straight Championship victory.
The event is proudly supported by the NSW Government’s lead agency for tourism and major events, Destination NSW.