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Australia SailGP Team hosts Camp to select female sailor to join the squad

by Olivia Hogan 7 Feb 23:10 PST
Australia SailGP Team Invitational Camp (l-r) Lisa Darmanin, Nina Curtis Natasha Bryant © Beau Outteridge / SailGP

Three of Australia's top female sailors have taken part in an invitational camp hosted at Woollahra Sailing Club in Sydney, as part of a new program aimed at accelerating the inclusion of female athletes in SailGP.

Following an application process and impressive interest from female sailors across the country, Australia team helm Tom Slingsby selected Lisa Darmanin, Nina Curtis and Natasha Byrant to join him for the two day camp. Sailors Mara Stransky and Hayley Outteridge were also selected to take part in the camp, however were unable to attend due to COVID border restrictions in Australia.

The three women who took part in the camp have a long list of sailing achievements and experience. Lisa Darmanin holds an Olympic Silver Medal in the Nacra class, with Nina Curtis also holding an Olympic Silver Medal in the Match Racing class and experience competing in the 2017/2018 Ocean Volvo Race on team Brunel. Young up and coming sailor Natasha Bryant was named the Youth World Champion in 2016 for the 29er class and also recently campaigned for the 2021 Olympics in the FX class.

The camp saw the athletes demonstrate their foiling sailing abilities on WASZP's, a one-design single person foiling dinghy. This provided Slingsby with the opportunity to view the athlete's potential ability on the one design 50-foot foiling catamarans used in SailGP. The program, launched last year, forms part of SailGP's Race for the Future purpose-driven agenda, working to create an end-to-end pathway to expand female participation in the sport and, ultimately, the league.

The initial phase of the program will see two women from the camp selected to join the Australian team - the reigning SailGP Champions - for the opening event of SailGP Season 2 in Bermuda when the global league restarts on 24-25 April. Following the pre-season training and development in Bermuda at least one of the athletes will be selected to join the team for the duration of the season.

"We have an impressive talent pool of female athletes in Australia to select from for this camp, which includes sailors with Olympic experience and national titles. This camp is just the start of the pathway that we are creating, which will give female athletes an opportunity to represent their country and race in a global championship which hasn't really been possible before now", said Slingsby.

"The next step for us is to get the two selected athletes experience on the F50s in Bermuda, so they can test their skill set, trial various positions on the boat and I can see how they work in a team environment."

Lisa Darmanin commented on the program saying, "This not only provides a career pathway to professional female sailors but it also will inspire the next generation of young athletes coming up the ranks, who get to see women competing on these F50s, and can work towards this."

Fellow participant Natasha Bryant said, "I took part in the Inspire Program at the Sydney SailGP last year which was my first experience of foiling and I loved it. It was a massive honour to be able to take part in the camp and have the opportunity to learn from Tom Slingsby first hand, who has such a huge amount of experience in the foiling world."

The two women selected to attend the training camp in Bermuda will be announced with the full Australian team line-up later this month.

SailGP Season 2 was postponed due to COVID-19 and is rescheduled to start in Bermuda (April 24-25). From there the sports pinnacle league will travel to Europe with events inTaranto (ITA, June 5-6), Plymouth (GBR, July 17-18), Aarhus (DEN, August 20-21), Saint-Tropez (FRA, September 11-12) and Cádiz (ESP, October 9-10). SailGP will also make its first visit to Christchurch for New Zealand's maiden grand prix on January 29-30, 2022. The season will culminate with the Grand Final in San Francisco on March 26-27, 2022, when the champion will be determined in a single $1 million winner-takes-all final.

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