Please select your home edition
Savvy Navvy 2021 SW LEADERBOARD v2

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

Great Britain SailGP Team confirms Season 2 squad
Olympic gold medallist Hannah Mills joins the team in Bermuda With less than one week to go until the start of SailGP Season 2, which commences with the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess April 24-25, the Great Britain SailGP Team has unveiled its squad. Posted on 19 Apr
Tom Slingsby & Kyle Langford on their F50 capsize
Langford: "We owe our American mates a few beers for that!" Skipper Tom Slingsby and his Australia teammates took the opportunity to get out on the waves on Friday with a week to go before Season 2 kicks off in Bermuda, but it wasn't all rosy as a capsize interrupted their training session. Posted on 17 Apr
SailGP: Australian team capsizes US F-50
Aussies capsize borrowed F50 in Bermuda sailing in 25-34kt winds - see on-board video The Australian SailGP crew capsized the US SailGP F50 foiling catamaran during a practice session on Bermuda's Great Sound on Friday - Images and onboard video. Posted on 17 Apr
SailGP 2nd season with Oracle Cloud Technologies
Powerful analytics bring teams & fans deeper race insights & put them aboard a virtual F50 catamaran Oracle and SailGP, sailing's premier racing league, have expanded their successful data analytics platform leading into the second season. Posted on 16 Apr
Statement: Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
SailGP and the Bermuda Tourism Authority have been working closely on Covid-19 protocols SailGP and the Bermuda Tourism Authority have been working closely following the Bermuda Government's tightening of COVID-19 protocols to ensure that the forthcoming Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess. Posted on 15 Apr
Coutts more confident of SailGP Bermuda proceeding
SailGP needs COVID dispensations for Bermuda event to proceed on schedule Russell Coutts, CEO of SailGP has told Bermuda Tonight that he is more confident of the first regatta in the 2021 circuit getting underway as scheduled, despite there being only 10 days left until the scheduled start on April 24. Posted on 14 Apr
SailGP teams stalled while negotiations continue
COVID Lockdown snares SailGP teams, yet to be finished Kiwi boat shipped to Bermuda The COVID-19 lockdown, starting Tuesday morning in Bermuda has caught out the teams assembling and training ahead of the start of the first regatta in the second round of Sail GP. In addition the NZ SailGP's boat is unfinished Posted on 13 Apr
SailGP: Bermuda goes into seven day lockdown
Bermuda will enter a "shelter at home" policy, ending after the start of SailGP Round 2 It has been announced in Bermuda that the island will enter a "shelter at home" policy for the next seven days at least. The Premier says no exceptions will be made for SailGP for training or racing. Posted on 12 Apr
United States SailGP Team reveals Season 2 lineup
Spithill designs roster for current and future performance advantage The United States SailGP Team revealed its complete SailGP Season 2 lineup today with the announcement of athletes Daniela Moroz, CJ Perez, and Paul Campbell-James to its roster in addition to its acquisition of Philippe Presti as head coach. Posted on 9 Apr
Australia SailGP Team - Season Two
Tom Slingsby reveals his Australian team and female athletes to join the crew in SailGP season 2 Olympic Gold Medallist and defending SailGP Champion Tom Slingsby revealed his team line up set to defend Australia's Championship title in SailGP Season 2. Posted on 8 Apr
Selden 2020 - FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERRooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTER