Please select your home edition
Edition
Lennon Thermalite 728x90 3

SailGP NZ: Fast-tracking female sailors to the sport's Formula One

by Suzanne McFadden/Newsroom 8 Feb 03:57 PST 8 February 2021
Erica Dawson and Liv Mackay will join Olympic and America's Cup champions Blair Tuke and Peter Burling in their NZL Sail GP team in Bermuda, learning the ropes of sailing a 50ft foiling cat. Photo: NZL Sail GP. © NZL SailGP

Will we see women racing on America’s Cup boats again? It may be a step closer to reality, with Erica Dawson and Liv Mackay in New Zealand’s crew for the Sail GP world circuit.

For years, Erica Dawson has imagined a day when she could sail alongside the best male sailors on board the world’s fastest foiling yachts.

“To be honest, I’d dreamed of it, but I wasn’t really sure it would be possible,” the 27-year-old Olympian-in-waiting says.

And now it is. And around 250 million pairs of eyes could be on her as she realises that dream.

No pressure, of course.

It may not yet be the America’s Cup, but Dawson and fellow foiling multihull sailor, Liv Mackay, have been given the opportunity to try to “bridge the gap” – sailing with the Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s maiden New Zealand crew in the global Sail GP series.

Burling, who’s right now at the wheel of the Cup defender Emirates Team New Zealand, is on the same page as Dawson and Mackay – he sees no reason why women can’t sail in today’s America’s Cup.

But what’s holding them back, he says, is the lack of experience on fast, hi-tech flying machines, and the knowledge to know how to handle them.

“Nothing is stopping it right now. Rather it’s the skill and knowledge gap that’s the problem,” says Burling. “We’re doing our part to help bridge that gap and give women the chance to compete at the highest level of our sport.

“These things take time, but we’ll do everything we can to help fast-track that, and improve the skills and knowledge of our female sailors. It’s something Blair and I are incredibly passionate about.”

The inclusion of Dawson and Mackay is part of the gender equality initiative introduced by Sail GP, the foiling monohull global series billed as sailing’s Formula One, and run by another Kiwi sailing legend, Sir Russell Coutts.

When Season 2 starts in Bermuda in April (the global pandemic allowing), every national crew sailing in the event must have at least one woman in their team.

The Sail GP fleet racing on Sydney Harbour in January 2020, before Covid-19 cancelled the rest of the season. Photo: Getty Images. All eight teams will have two female sailors at the pre-season training camp in Bermuda, where they’ll learn the ropes on the F50 foiling cats, before being immersed in the first racing of the winner-takes-all $US1 million series – which boasts a global audience of 256 million viewers.

After the Bermuda Grand Prix, Burling and Tuke will likely narrow it down to one woman to join the team for the rest of the eight-stop series.

Mackay and Dawson are used to competing against each other for one spot – last year Dawson edged out Mackay for a place at the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed-gender Nacra 17 foiling multihull. “It’s lucky we get on really well,” Dawson quips.

For the rest of this story click here

Related Articles

SailGP makes an impact with purpose-driven project
Commitment to positively impact each of its event's communities With the high-speed pace being set by the opening event in Bermuda, SailGP's purpose-driven mantle to Race for the Future as an international leader in sustainable sport and entertainment wasted no time making its mark. Posted on 15 May
GoPro video compilation from SailGP Bermuda
Have a look on board a F50 with shot from a GoPro aboard various teams at Bermuda Have a look on board a F50 with shot from a GoPro aboard various teams during Season 2 from SailGP Bermuda. Posted on 7 May
Challenging times for Spain SailGP in Bermuda
Former world match racing champion Phil Robertson recaps on Spain SailGP's experience in Bermuda. All the teams in the recent SailGP Bermuda regatta experienced challenges triggered by COVID19 restrictions on practice time, plus getting crews up to speed after 14months out of the circuit. Phil Robertson recaps on Spain SailGP's experience in Bermuda. Posted on 1 May
SailGP news, TOR goes green, and new IMOCA rules
Latest newsletter from Sail-World's David Schmidt in the USA The weather may have been cold and rainy for the Seattle Yacht Club's Protection Island Race this past Saturday on Puget Sound, but things were fortunately warmer in Bermuda, where sailing unfurled for the first event in the 2021 SailGP season. Posted on 27 Apr
SailGP Bermuda: Brits and Kiwis improve on Day 2
Brits win but Australia sets a very high bar for the the other seven teams Great Britain SailGP helmed by Prada Cup Finalist, Ben Ainslie won the sixth and Final race. The current America's Champions crewing the NZSailGP team improved to be in fifth position after the second and final day of SailGP Bermuda. Posted on 27 Apr
Bermuda Sail Grand Prix Highlights Video
Plenty of drama on the Great Sound! The opening event of SailGP Season 2 is over and we have our first winner, with Great Britain crowned champion of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess. Posted on 26 Apr
SailGP season opener serves and frustrates
Incredible logistics and technology needs a little honing I take my hat off to the logistics team that the event happened at all. With a lockdown in Bermuda and the general difficulties in travel, getting eight international teams and the paraphernalia to a small island in the North Atlantic was no mean feat. Posted on 26 Apr
SailGP Bermuda: Dramatic onboard collision video
Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP Dramatic video footage shot from on-board Japan SailGP as their courses intersected with USA SailGP on Leg 3 of Race 4 of Day 2 of SailGP Bermuda. Nathan Outteridge describes how it unfolded. Posted on 26 Apr
SailGP Bermuda: Kiwis make big improvement - Day 2
The New Zealand SailGP Team delivered an improved performance at the Bermuda SailGP - Day 2 The New Zealand SailGP Team delivered an improved performance at the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in a drama-filled second day on the Great Sound. Posted on 25 Apr
Great Britain stuns dominant Australia
To be crowned Bermuda Sail Grand Prix champion In a dramatic day that saw overtakes, crashes and a capsize, the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess was decided in a winner-takes-all final podium race that saw Ainslie come out on top from Tom Slingsby's Australia team. Posted on 25 Apr
Henri-Lloyd 2021 M-PRO PURE BLACK - FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 1Cyclops 2020 - SmartlinkNano - FOOTER