Equality for female sailors high on Spithill’s SailGP agenda
Creating opportunities for female athletes is among the objectives Jimmy Spithill, the United States SailGP Team CEO and helmsman, hopes to achieve in his debut season competing in the global sailing series.
“Our goal is to create a roster that is both competitive and represents the sport’s future,” the two-time America’s Cup winner commented on the SailGP website. “A big part of that is changing the top end of the sport to create opportunities for female athletes, and we’ve already started to identify several talented women who could complete our roster.”
Emily Nagel, the Bermuda sailor, worked with Great Britain SailGP during the inaugural SailGP Championship in 2019.
She initially volunteered her services as a performance data analyst for SailGP’s series-opening regatta in Sydney, Australia, which ultimately led to a role serving in the same capacity with the team.
“I was lucky enough to secure a spot with SailGP GBR and since then it has been an epic rollercoaster ride visiting some awesome venues and watching the boys improve event to event,” Nagel said.
Spithill, the former Oracle Team USA helmsman, joined the US SailGP Team last December and will spearhead the team’s bid to claim the sport’s largest monetary prize of US$1 million during the global league’s second season that will commence on local shores when the island hosts the Bermuda Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in the Great Sound from April 24-25.
“I am extremely honoured to have the opportunity to represent the United States once again,” he said.
Spithill has taken over the helm from Rome Kirby whom he competed alongside on Defender Oracle at the 35th America’s Cup, which Bermuda hosted in 2017.
Kirby’s services have been retained as flight controller while the trio of Andrew Campbell, Cooper Dressler and Alex Sinclair, all members of 36th America’s Cup Challenger American Magic, are among the latest additions to US SailGP Team.
“A winning team starts with the people you surround yourself with,” Spithill, the 2005 King Edward VII Gold Cup winner, said.
“Athletes such as Andrew, Cooper and Alex bring lots of experience to our team and we’re lucky to have them, but we’re not done. We look forward to announcing more team members in the coming weeks.”
SailGP, cofounded by software billionaire Larry Ellison, is an annual global event featuring national teams that compete in the wing-sailed F50 foiling catamarans that were raced at the 35th America’s Cup.
The high-performance multihull is the smallest class raced in the America's Cup and capable of speeds approaching 60mph.
Each grand-prix event includes two competition days, featuring five fleet races leading to a final match race between the two leaders. Points are accumulated at each event throughout the season, culminating with a thrilling $1 million winner-takes-all championship race at the Grand Final.
“It’s obvious that SailGP is one of the pinnacle events in our sport that combines cutting-edge technology with exciting, dynamic racing in iconic venues spread around the world,” Spithill said. “As a competitor, an annual championship that draws in the world’s best professional sailors is where you want to be.”
Australia SailGP, helmed by Olympic champion Tom Slingsby, were the inaugural winners.
“It feels great to be the inaugural SailGP winners,” Slingsby said. “We are so excited to get going again.”
The second round of the SailGP series was due to commence last May but was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.