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Live Ocean Racing's all-female crew will compete in the Open ETF26 Grand Prix

by Live Ocean Racing 12 Apr 10:01 PDT 13 April 2022
Live Ocean Racing team will compete in ETF26 Grand Prix © Georgia Schofield

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have launched Live Ocean Racing - a platform that brings together a talented and diverse team to compete at the highest level.

The establishment of the racing team is a continuation of the pair’s intention to use their sailing platform to connect people to the issues the ocean faces. The all female crew includes Olympic Gold and Silver medalists, as well as the two female sailing crew from the NZSailGP team. All crew are NZ residents.

It is likely that the this group will form the nucleus of the 2024 Womens America's Cup team for Emirates Team New Zealand racing in the yet to be launched AC40's. With their entry into the ETF26 circuit they will get some vital foiling miles, competing on a physically equal basis against male sailors from SailGP and other circuits.

The first campaign for Live Ocean Racing will be the ETF26 Grand Prix, skippered by New Zealander Liv Mackay. It will feature some of the country's most successful women sailors competing on foiling catamarans, accelerating their passage into professional sailing events such as SailGP and the America’s Cup.

Several of the Live Ocean Racing team will be combining their ETF26 program with 2024 Olympic Sailing campaigns.

Mackay will be joined by a stellar line up of Kiwi talent including Olympic and world-champion sailors Jo Aleh, Molly Meech, Alex Maloney, Erica Dawson and Jason Saunders as coach.

Launched in 2018 and now in its fifth edition, the team will compete in the five-event series based in France and Italy starting this week in La Trinité sur Mer on April 15th (French time). The Live Ocean Racing team will compete in open competition in the lightweight EFT26 (Easy To Fly) class, created by leading singlehanded and offshore sailor Jean-Pierre (JP) Dick.

Eight teams have entered the 2022 EFT26 series, including a second all-female team from France 'Lady Team Pro'. There are five races per day and last around 30mins each.

Four of the five events on the circuit will be sailed in France, with the fifth during Foiling Week at Lake Garda, Italy. In 2021, two of the (male) skippers on the EFT26 circuit also competed in the SailGP circuit. The ETF Series is scheduled around SailGP dates – there are a lot of SailGP sailors that also compete in this competition, and I believe the Danish SailGP team is also joining for one event.

The initiative by Live Ocean Racing breaks away from the female quota systems employed by other events. In the ETF26 female competitors will be in authentic competition with their professional male counterparts. It will accelerate the inclusion of women sailors into other professional programs, like the America's Cup and SailGP on a merit, rather than a female quota basis.

Inspired by the catamarans used in the 35th America's Cup, which went on to provide the base for the F50s in SailGP, teams will compete in 26-foot one design catamarans built for high-speed races reaching speeds of up to 35 knots.

“Sailing is evolving rapidly, with new technology and innovative boat designs dominating professional sailing,” Mackay said. “Up until now the majority of women have spent their careers in single or double-handed dinghies with very limited opportunities to move beyond that into professional campaigns and foiling boats.”

“The ETF26 Grand Prix offers opportunities for more time training and competing in foiling boats, a larger team environment and a chance to hone and refine racing skills. The boats are advanced and undergoing constant refinement so it’s awesome to be leading a team taking on this challenge. And with the announcement of SailGP and America’s Cup women's programmes, it’s exciting to see more opportunities arise.”

Expanding on Burling and Tuke’s Live Ocean mission, Live Ocean Racing will operate independently of Live Ocean Foundation but share the same vision – a healthy ocean for a healthy future. The Live Ocean Racing team takes the message of positive ocean action to the world, championing the ground-breaking work of the foundation and its partners.

“When we started Live Ocean Foundation, we did it with the vision of using our sailing platform for good. We’ve launched Live Ocean Racing now as we’ve seen the need to provide more opportunities for women in foiling boats and felt that this was the right time and place to start,” Burling said.

“Looking ahead, Live Ocean Racing will break the mould of traditional sailing team’s assembling only for a single campaign, creating an agile team that races with purpose. ETF26 is just the beginning.”

Yachting New Zealand high performance director Ian Stewart welcomed Live Ocean Racing and the impact it will have on the pathways for women in sailing. “The establishment of Live Ocean Racing is a really exciting development for our sport and Live Ocean needs to be congratulated for their initial focus on opening up pathways and their commitment to a healthy ocean,” Stewart said. “These opportunities for women are long overdue and Live Ocean Racing will help inspire an inclusive generation of sailors.”

“Many of those involved in the Live Ocean Racing team this year are also working towards the 2024 Paris Olympics and we know, managed well, this will ultimately make them better sailors.”

Live Ocean Racing will take on a range of ambitious racing events in the future.

The move into the EFT26 circuit is the latest initiative from the former Olympic champions and double America's Cup winners, using Burling and Tuke's sailing exploits to raise awareness and give impetus to several projects that are funded by a separate organisation Live Ocean Foundation.

“Our vision for Live Ocean Racing is to rethink what a professional sports team looks like. With purpose at the heart of the team, Live Ocean Racing will race for Aotearoa taking on awesome challenges at the pinnacle of sport, while championing action for the ocean on the world stage,” Tuke said.

“Pete and I are excited to see the team get onto the water and are their biggest supporters. We’re fully committed to Emirates Team New Zealand and the New Zealand SailGP Team but in the future, we’re looking forward to sailing for Live Ocean Racing. There are some amazing challenges in sailing that we haven’t tackled yet and it’s still a few years away but taking on something like the Ocean Race with Live Ocean Racing would be awesome.”

You can follow the action from the first event of the ETF26 Grand Prix on @itsliveocean on Saturday April 16 – Tuesday April 19 NZT.

The ETF26 Series is back for a fifth edition running from April to July:

  • Spi Ouest-France / April 14th-18th 2022 / La Trinité sur mer (France)

  • Eurocat / April 28th - May 1st 2022 / Carnac (France)

  • Raid Quiberon / June 2nd-5th 2022 / Quiberon (France)

  • Foiling Week / June 30th - July 3rd 2022 / Garda Lake (Italy)

  • Grand Prix du Grand Pavois / Sept. 29th- Oct. 2n 2022 / La Rochelle (France)

About Live Ocean Racing

Live Ocean Racing is a New Zealand racing team committed to action for the ocean. Established by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, Live Ocean Racing will bring together a talented and diverse team to compete at the highest level. With innovation and purpose baked into our DNA, we race on and for the ocean.

  • Live Ocean Racing is led by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke however, they are not part of the sailing team for the ETF26 Grand Prix. They are fully committed to SailGP and Emirates Team New Zealand.

  • Live Ocean Racing is a separate entity to Live Ocean Foundation with its own governance, board, management and funding. However, they share brand and purpose.

  • No funding from Live Ocean Foundation goes towards Live Ocean Racing. The foundation will continue to audit annually and deliver a high level of transparency around donor funds.

  • Live Ocean Foundation is the Race for the Future charity partner for the New Zealand SailGP Team.

About Live Ocean Foundation

Live Ocean is a marine conservation foundation committed to scaling up action for the ocean. Founded by sailors and ocean champions, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the foundation scales up marine science, innovation and outreach to connect and ignite people around the role a healthy ocean plays in a healthy future. We partner with exceptional New Zealand marine scientists, innovators and communicators whose work has global implications for the protection of the ocean and the life in it. To have a healthy future, we must have a healthy ocean.

Current projects undertaken by the Live Ocean Foundation include:

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