It looks like RS Sailing are back doing what they love best. They’re ploughing headfirst into events, showing off their nippy RSCAT14s and getting more kids into sailing. It was pretty much a year to the day that RS received the call from Russel Coutts inviting them to be part of SailGP Inpsire, within seconds they had said yes and they were well and truly in.
Stood on Cowes Parade a year later, there was an emotional buzz on the beach as the nine SailGP Inspire teams, who had just torn up the Solent made it back to shore. Sailors, parents, friends, supporters and staff were giddy with pride. Whether it was the helicopter, the 8 minutes of epic racing, the drone the size of a spaceship, the crowds cheering on shore, the spunky RS CATs, the awesome local sailors who had just given it there all or the awe inducing F50s in the background, we’re unsure but something truly special had just happened and it is clear that RS Sailing are back doing what they love to do the most.
So what actually is SailGP Inspire? The program is a multi-tiered approach to use sailing as an inspirational tool for education. The programs will give young people from all backgrounds equal life changing opportunities on and off the water. From little ones trying sailing that have never stepped foot on a boat before, upcoming junior racers smashing it around the course in podium F1 style racing, all the way through to young adults looking to gain top end work experience in the industry, the program covers it all.
SailGP Inspire is travelling to every SailGP event, there is a container currently being rammed full of RS CAT14s, marks and kit at RS HQ to take on the road. For RS Sailing it is an undeniable opportunity to really showcase what they do best which is running world class events in great boats.
Jon Partridge shared his thoughts after Cowes, “I have the privilege to be involved with all aspects of junior and youth sailing – Massive RS Feva Championships, the Endeavour Program in Bermuda, working with the UK Sea Cadets to revitalise thier fleet of training boats enabling them to get more kids on the water and many more. The three principles of the Sail GP program – Learn, racing and careers fit perfectly with the outlook of RS Sailing. SailGP in Cowes is simply the coolest event RS sailing has had the honour to be a part of. We simply love creating memories and being a part of something that encourages kids to fall in love with our sport. Roll on Marseille!
As always RS Sailing have rolled their sleeves up and got well and truly stuck in, from providing a fleet of 10 fully branded RS CAT14, one of RS Sailings popular sport catamaran designs to helping execute the racing and of course adding the RS fun that it’s so infamous for. The journey to Cowes has been an epic one which couldn’t have happened without all the hard work from the RS Sailing Team at HQ and the support from the legend that is Tom Herbert-Evans and his team from SailGP Inspire.
Tom Herbert-Evans, reflected on the weeks’ events at Cowes, “Sailing is probably the most difficult sport to learn as children, we must improve the way we offer the next generation and non-sailing families access to the sport. All of us that sail are passionate about it, it’s essential that from the SailGP core, we use our organisation to enhance and drive sailing forward. What we saw in Cowes was so refreshing, I have never seen any kids so genuinely inspired to be part of an event!”
SailGP Inspire will be a legacy program, fund raising will take place throughout the season with the aim to leave RS CAT14s around the globe and give more sailors access to our sport at an absolute grassroots level. It gives up and coming sailors a chance to meet their idols, feel like rock stars and race in front of thousands. These events are going to create memories that will last a lifetime and introduce more young sailors to what our sport has to offer, beyond the Olympic dream. The careers element allows sailors to remain in our sport beyond youth racing with opportunities from engineering, media, all the way through to hospitality. SailGP inspire is really investing in the future of our sport.
The RS Sailing team are kids at heart and the SailGP Inspire program is definitely how we want our industry to grow. Unless organisations commit to the future and change within our sport there will eventually be no one to sell boats to and its epic to know that SailGP Inspire are leading the way and RS can be a part of it. Riki Hooker, Sales Director at RS Sailing commented on why the program is so important “SailGP represents the top performance formula of sailing and shows our sport in a most exciting and appealing way. What better time to highlight how easy, accessible and fun sailing is at the other end of the scale by creating Inspire to give opportunities to young people and aspiring racers around the world. Making it happen in RS boats is the cherry on the top! “
Eighteen junior sailors from around the South Coast were given the opportunity to be part of the SailGP Inspire Rippers racing. Branded head to toe in new kit, they stepped onto fully branded RS CATs and absolutely went for it. In the lead up to the racing on the Sunday the sailors had a training session with all of the F50 helms which was an absolute blast. The junior sailors were trapped between the state of being in absolute awe and fear as the helms took the practice racing incredibly seriously. It turns out they are competitive in cats regardless of the size! After a few capsizes, collisions and tight finishes the sailors made their way back to shore and had everything they owned autographed by their idols.
With Saturday being completely blown off, the sailors had one day of stadium racing to tackle on Sunday. With some more training first thing the sailors were then interviewed outside at the mainstage before getting back out on the water to race. It was pretty breezy, mainsails were reefed and the sailors were briefed to be safe and have fun. With a helicopter buzzing around above, a huge drone and live commentary from Jessie Tuke and RS Sailings’ Jon Partridge the sailors felt like rock stars and the 1000’s of spectators on the beach cheered them on with everything they had. Without sounding cliché it was inspiring.
Illeana Taylor-Burns represented Gurnard Sailing Club in the stadium racing “I wanted to say thanks so much to RS for such an amazing experience last weekend. I had hardy sailed a catamaran before last Friday and it was amazing, they are such fun to sail, especially trapezing as crew. The whole thing was one of the best experiences of my life, from sailing with Billy Besson through to trapezing from the RS CAT14 in my hometown in front of a huge crowd, with many of my friends and family watching. I will always remember your commentary before the race, when you built us up as the local favourites – the cheer was so loud!! You, Molly, Tom and everyone in the team made all the sailors feel like superstars. The race was amazing, I don’t think I will ever race again being filmed by helicopters and with live commentary. I still can’t quite believe that we managed to come third after such a terrible start and I was told my mum burst into tears after watching! I really have been inspired for the future and will certainly be applying to volunteer if SailGP returns to Cowes next year or at other RS events in the future”.
SailGP Inspire is the change that our industry has been desperate for at a junior level, anyone who is lucky enough to share some of the magic that the SailGP team deliver at each event will be inspired and make memories for a lifetime.