Women's America's Cup is a step in the direction of gender equality.


Women's America's Cup is a step in the direction of gender equality.



It was extremely motivating to watch the English Lionesses win the European Championship on Sunday night and to witness the jubilant response it sparked on Monday.

An important turning point on the path to gender equality, not just in sports but also in society at large.

We have a strong sense that something has changed, and we are currently riding a wave. It goes beyond football. Throughout the sport, long overdue transformation is taking place.

On Sunday, the inaugural Tour de France for women came to an end.

Football is a more evolved sport than sailing. even competitive cycling.

However, we are experiencing our own quiet revolution.

I am incredibly thrilled and happy to announce today that I will be leading the GB women's and youth squads for the first Women's America's Cup, which will take place in 2024. To give women and young people a way into this style of sailing, America's Cup is necessary.

To be truly successful, in my opinion, men and women must compete in all teams for America's Cup itself, both now and in the future.

The Athena Pathway, as we have named it, aims to introduce young sailors of both sexes to that world.

Along with shore personnel, engineers, sailmakers, and every other aspect of the marine industry, not simply the sailing side.

It is difficult to exaggerate how important this is, especially for young females.

Professional sailing simply didn't seem like a realistic career option while I was growing up.

Of course, there were anomalies that motivated sailors competing in the Vendée Globe or Volvo Ocean Race, like Ellen MacArthur or Dee Caffari.

But funding for such initiatives is scarce, making it a hazardous livelihood. For the most part, women's sailing possibilities were restricted to Olympic sailing, which isn't exactly a job.


To be quite honest, when I made the decision to retire after Tokyo 2020, I thought I would be seeking work in sustainability and ecology, outside of sailing.

Then, two events took place. As a female sailor is now required on every SailGP team, Ben Ainslie first approached me about competing on the British boat.

America's Cup then declared its intention to have a Women's Cup and a Youth Cup in addition to the main competition in 2024.

Ben and I struck up a conversation, and he asked me to oversee GB's programming.

Given that I am pregnant and unable to sail, the timing could not have been more ideal. From our hub in Brackley, I've been able to really dive into the planning.

Of course, I hope to return after delivering my child and compete in SailGP once more the following year, if not sooner. And when we use the AC40 foiling boats in 2024, I intend to be one of the co-helms.

However, I will be working hard to bolster our women's and kids squads in the interim. Several female sailors have already joined up.

Hannah Diamond and Nikki Boniface, who has been on the SailGP vessel while I've been out. Also noteworthy is the young Waszp sailor Hattie Rogers.

In due time, we'll make further announcements.

Ben and I have decided that there will be a 50-50 gender split in the youth programme (sailors must be 25 or younger on the day the competition begins), which is not actually required by the regulations but something we felt strongly about.

Additionally, it implies that some young female sailors from the youth programme can participate in both the Men's and Women's America's Cups.

But this is just the beginning. There won't be a distinct Women's America's Cup because, in the end, I envisage America's Cup itself having a mix of male and female sailors.

On the boat, there are a number of positions that do not require physical strength, such as the helm, tactician, and pilot.

We do need more female sailors to enter the workforce; numbers are what we need. We intend to offer that route. Of course, the strong Greek goddess Athena.

As we continue to smash down the doors of professional sport, it feels like a really fitting moniker.

Previous Post Next Post