Despite being surrounded by water, in one of the premier sailing capitals of the world, new figures have revealed that a third of children on the Isle of Wight are living in poverty and have never taken part in any on-water activities.
In Cowes, SailGP partnered with the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA), an organization that promotes all water based initiatives on the Island, and the Royal Yachting Association, to help deliver and activate the newly launched SailGP Inspire program and introduce local children to the sport. The three pillars of the Inspire program - Inspire Learning, Inspire Careers, and Inspire Racing – aim to give young girls, boys, women and men (ages 9-23) from all backgrounds life-changing opportunities on and off the water.
“The UKSA is committed to supporting the most deserving young people and children here on the island to be able to access the amazing experiences and opportunities that being on the water provides,” said Ben Willows CEO of UKSA. “Together we are aiming to continue to offer every year 6 child on the Island a sailing session at UKSA through our test the water program. It is great to see SailGP supporting the local community here in Cowes and on the island and we look forward to working with SailGP over the next few years as this event and partnership continues to develop and grow.”
Amidst the high performance action of SailGP Cowes, 10 purple and turquoise RS Cat14s could be seen off the race village at Egypt Point. Children from the island were introduced to the science behind sailing and learning about the basic principles ashore before then heading out on the water to put the theory into practice. They also rubbed shoulders with the six helms from SailGP who stepped onboard the RS Cat14s with them to give a once in a lifetime sailing lesson.
The Inspire program was the brainchild of SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts, who wanted to devise a program that uses sailing as a force for good. SailGP Inspire broadens access to the sport, offers a career pathway and aims to leave a meaningful legacy in SailGP host cities.
“Sailing is an amazing sport that teaches lifelong lessons that can be applied for whatever a young person chooses to do in life. Teamwork, sportsmanship as well as things like being well prepared and responsible,” said Coutts.
Bringing junior sailors to the SailGP racecourse was just one activation of SailGP Inspire, which also saw students receive a hands-on learning experience in the SailGP Race Village using experiential STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education. As part of Inspire Careers, 11 interns joined SailGP across all areas of the organization. In addition to the experiences in Cowes, £2 of every ticket sold at SailGP Cowes went to the UKSA, to continue to grow the sport on the Isle of Wight and leave a lasting legacy on the Island.
“Part of our vision is to partner with incredible organizations such as the UKSA and help enhance their programs,” said Tom Herbert-Evans, SailGP Inspire Youth Program Manager. “We hope to improve and expand for future events and support through developing a legacy curriculum that will help each community partner.”
At future events, SailGP Inspire will be replicated at each host city to leave a lasting impact on the communities, supporting in different languages and adapting to local cultures.
Learn more about SailGP Inspire here.