Sydney SailGP Season marked the official start of the SailGP Inspire program in 2020 as 32 up-and-coming sailors from Australia, Japan and New Zealand competed alongside the global championship’s fleet of supercharged F50 catamarans.
The program kicked off on Sydney Harbour in the days leading up to the SailGP season opener, and the young sailors showcased their skills on the Inspire fleet of RS Cat14s and WASZP foiling dinghies, highlighting the program's ambition to introduce young people to the sport as well as create a pathway and identify talent that could one day join the global league.
The competitors were kitted out by Rooster and competed on a racecourse of the future using innovative technology from MarkSetBot – sharing the same waters as the impressive F50s. Local partner Woollahra Sailing Club provided a top-class base for the program.
Inspire Racing x RS Cat14
The Inspire Racing x RS Cat14 field included 16 young local Sydney sailors - eight girls and eight boys - representing eight local sailing clubs for the chance to impress the enthusiastic home crowd lining the shores, spectator boats and Shark Island.
Over the course of a packed three-day program, the young athletes went through training, raced the RS Cat14s – supplied by partner RS Sailing, received a tech tour around the SailGP team bases and rubbed shoulders with some of the best sailors in the world.
The racing on Sydney Harbour took place in between the F50 racing in front of thousands of fans and was short and sharp in tricky wind conditions, testing the competitors to the limit, with no allowance for errors. All eight teams experienced the highs and lows of competition, but three teams managed to consistently stay clear of trouble, and only two points separated the front-runners heading into the final race.
In the end, Pearl Twomey and Tyler Dransfield – representing Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club – emerged victorious with just a one point difference propelling them to the event title ahead of Ella Delaney and Ben Craford of Middle Harbour Sailing Club.
Inspire Racing x WASZP
Sydney SailGP was the launch of the inaugural Inspire Racing x WASZP program. With over a 100 applicants whittled down to the top 16 sailors – eight female and eight male – representing Australia, New Zealand and Japan, there was no shortage of up-and-coming talent on show.
Two sailors from New Zealand – Sean Herbert and Sam Street – were too dominant for the rest of the fleet and put in a string of impressive performances in the qualification rounds to earn their spots in the final series. In the end, Herbert got the better of his fellow countryman and took the inaugural WASZP win in commanding fashion from Street.
There was also a fierce competition amongst the female athletes. Anna Yamazaki (JPN) and Stella Bilger (NZL) battled back and forth, before a second in the final race sealed the deal for the young New Zealander who finished fourth overall and first female.
Herbert taking the overall title in Sydney meant that he flew home with a brand new WASZP. In order to promote the spread of resources to grow the sport, the prize has a policy that if the winner already owns a WASZP they must pass their existing boat on at no financial gain to another U20 sailor. With this in mind and already owning a boat, he decided to keep it in the family and pass it on to his 13-year-old sister.
SailGP Youth Program Manager Tom Herbert-Evans said: “Sydney turned it on and was a great way to kick off the Inspire program in Season 2. SailGP Inspire is totally unique in that it connects the best sailors in the world with those that are just starting their own journeys - both on and off-water. Not only does it provide a great opportunity and pathway into the high performance aspect of the sport, but also adds some great memories of competing on the same racecourse as the F50s, which we hope will inspire them to go on and achieve their goals.”
To apply for upcoming programs please visit SailGP.com/Inspire.