DUBAI: Ahead of the return of the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas to the emirate on Dec. 9-10, SailGP is once again rolling out its dedicated community, education and outreach initiative, Inspire, to benefit hundreds of local youngsters and members of the sailing community.
SailGP said it founded the Inspire initiative with the aim of increasing diversity within the sport of sailing among young people, free of race, gender or socioeconomic barriers.
“The Inspire program is such an amazing part of SailGP and something unique to the championship,” said Pippa Kenton-Page, a sailing gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and Inspire coordinator in the UAE.
“Engaging young people in the sport is something I’m particularly passionate about, especially those who may not otherwise have the chance to try sailing and get involved. SailGP offers this opportunity for young people all around the world to try sailing and be inspired by the amazing boats and athletes involved.
“For me, this part of the global league is really incredible and I can’t wait to see the young people of Dubai and Abu Dhabi getting on the water and hopefully introducing them to a lifetime of sailing.”
Through Inspire’s learning, careers and racing programs, SailGP said it aims to have a positive effect on the local communities that host its events, and create a legacy. To date, it added, 16,727 young people have taken part in the program, exceeding the initial target of 10,000, and the aim now is to have 25,000 young people participate by the end of season 5 in 2024/25.
Through the Inspire learning program, 200 students in Dubai between the ages of 9 and 15 from more than half a dozen schools, including JESS Dubai and Dubai Heights Academy, will have the chance to take part in what is described as a unique experience at P&O Marina’s Sailing Academy.
It includes a tour of the SailGP technical base at Mina Rashid, lessons from members the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities exploring the science behind the sport. It all culminates in learn-to-sail sessions aboard RS21 racing boats.
The racing program, which is taking place at the academy this week, gives up to 10 young sailors each day the chance to take part in exclusive foiling taster clinics. Foiling is when a boat lifts above the surface of the water on hydrofoils as it moves, thereby reducing drag and increasing speed. Through the Inspire program’s partnership with sailboat maker Waszp, participants will have the opportunity to experience foiling for the first time and receive expert coaching, SailGP said.
The careers program gives 14 people of age 18 and over the chance to see how some of SailGP’s key departments work, including boat building, hydraulics, sustainability, media services and the shore team. SailGP said the aim is to showcase the variety of career paths in the sailing industry, and the selection process for the program prioritizes a mix of skills, backgrounds and diversity, making it the ideal platform for the next generation of sailing enthusiasts.
An “Adopt-a-Club” initiative, meanwhile, offers 300 people the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of high-performance sailing in a truly unique way, according to SailGP. This part of the Inspire program pairs 10 local sailing clubs with each of the 10 SailGP teams, giving members a chance to explore SailGP facilities, watch the preparation of the catamarans and gain insights into the logistical and technological aspects of high-performance sailing. Participants will also directly interact with SailGP athletes and other team members.
“P&O Marinas is incredibly proud to host the SailGP Inspire program at our Sailing Academy again,” said Hamza Mustafa, the chief operating officer of P&O Marinas.
“Inspire gives us the opportunity to both reach a great number of UAE youth who may not have had the opportunity to try sailing before, but also to inspire young sailors who are already engaged with the sport to accelerate their own skills, experience foiling and realize their dreams of competing in an F50 one day.
“It is a great program that combines theory and practice and we look forward to welcoming all the participants.”
Following the event in Dubai this week, the next round of the SailGP championship will be in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 13 and 14.