The potential future of the sport and industry shared the waters with the stars of SailGP when a group of twelve SailGP Inspire students took to the water for their first-ever sailing experience as part of SailGP’s youth and community outreach program.
Through the SailGP Inspire’s local community partner La Ligue, a program that supports citizenship and secularism among at-risk youth, Inner-city students from three local organizations – Association AC2N, Association Notre Dame Football Club and Contact Club Association participated in Inspire Learning.
After being greeted by Inspire instructors and staff in the SailGP Fan Zone, they were able to test their skills with a grinding challenge and experience a crash course in SailGP racing – without getting wet – with the SailGP Virtual Regatta module launched earlier this week.
The local youths got a sneak peek of the SailGP Fan Zone exhibitions that the public will also be able to join in over the weekend of Marseille SailGP. They also became the first people to play SailGP’s Virtual Regatta game.
One student, Aazdine Boukezza from AC2N, anticipated getting on the water to put his new-found skills in the SailGP Virtual Regatta game to the test, “The game was super fun, I didn’t know anything about sailing before, but now I’m ready to try it for real,” he said.
The mission of the SailGP Inspire program, which was launched in Cowes, is to make sailing an accessible, enjoyable, and use the sport as a platform for good through three unique pillars – Learning, Careers and Racing. The modules created for the program allow young people to apply their innovative and creative energy into a sport that they might not have been exposed to before. The goal is to stimulate a new wave of youth development within the sport through a mix of fun and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) education.
Confidently, Johanna Iklef from AC2N, remarked, “I’ve never been sailing but I want to win today, I won the grinder competition, so I think I will be good.”
A mere few minutes later, the students were kitted out in their Rooster technical sailing clothing, paired up with SailGP Inspire program instructors and were at the helm of their very own RS Sailing Cat 14s for the very first time.
After a few friendly races on the MarkSetBot racecourse, the sailors were introduced to local hero and helm of the France SailGP Team Billy Besson and given an exclusive tour of the team’s flying F50.
The reaction from the SailGP Inspire students was nothing short of amazement, the excited group peppered the sailors with questions, eager to soak up as much knowledge as possible from the hometown team in France.
“This program enables youth with access and getting them pathways on the water to experience new things, not just the sport of sailing, but the technology behind these incredible boats,” said SailGP youth program manager Tom Herbert-Evans. “The knowledge that these students were introduced to in Marseille, we hope will leave a lasting impression.”