SailGP Joins Forces with Women’s Sports Group to Advance Gender Equity in Sailing
In the backdrop of a year witnessing unprecedented surge in women’s sports patronage and investments, Women’s Sports Group (WSG) and SailGP are collaborating to propel the groundbreaking Women’s Pathway initiative in sailing.
The Women’s Pathway, a SailGP initiative launched in 2021 under their Better Sport strategy, is a pioneering move towards achieving gender equality in sailing. This transformative strategy is all about shattering existing barriers, promoting gender balance, and carving out broader opportunities for female sailors at the pinnacle of the sport.
WSG, brainchild of Dame Heather Rabbatts, the English Football Association’s first female non-executive director and former chair of its inclusion advisory board, will offer advisory expertise on securing commercial partnerships. This strategic alignment aims to foster the growth of SailGP’s Women’s Pathway, aligning with WSG’s mission of enhancing the economic prominence of women’s sports.
The increasing investments in women’s sports in recent years underline its burgeoning commercial appeal. This year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand, boasted a record-breaking viewership, with a staggering 14.8 million tuning into the UK women’s football final between England and Spain alone.
This partnership between SailGP and WSG aspires to leverage this newfound enthusiasm in women’s sports. The vision is a gender-balanced SailGP league, featuring elite athletes competing on the state-of-the-art hydrofoiling F50.
Historically, high-performance boat racing has been male-dominated, creating a glaring experience gap. SailGP’s mission is to bridge this disparity. A testament to their commitment was the Spain Sail Grand Prix in October 2021, marking the debut of female athletes on every national team. This change remains consistent, highlighting the tangible strides in inspiring aspiring female sailors. 29 women, including the legendary sailor Hannah Mills OBE, have since raced on the F50.
But to truly amplify the Women’s Pathway, strategic commercial partnerships and investments are essential, especially for specialized training sessions both on and off water.
By Season 6, SailGP envisions a female sailor clinching a win at their event, with a balanced gender representation on at least half the fleet.
Dame Heather Rabbatts expressed her enthusiasm, emphasizing the symbiotic partnership’s potential to “accelerate and enhance opportunities for female sailors.” Fiona Morgan, Chief Purpose Officer at SailGP, said: “Sports fans around the world have been captivated by this summer’s Women’s Football World Cup, Wimbledon and the Women’s Ashes and it’s been fantastic to see more commercial investment propelling these sports to new heights and reaching new audiences.
“Through the Women’s Pathway, SailGP has one of the best opportunities in sport to break existing boundaries, change culture and have a gender equitable league which I’m incredibly excited about. It’s great to be working with WSG, who share our vision of creating a sustainable, inclusive competition, and together, we will secure further commercial partners to drive this vision forward.”
SailGP’s Hannah Mills voiced her excitement “We’ve made some fantastic progress with the Women’s Pathway and Season 4 is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever, but we need commercial backing and funding to take the program to new heights and fast-track the ambition of getting a woman driver. For someone to own that and be responsible for creating the first female driver in SailGP would be huge, so this partnership with SailGP and WSG is incredibly exciting.”
This collaboration, which fuses WSG’s business acumen with SailGP’s commitment to gender equality, promises to redefine the landscape of women in sailing.