Emily Nagel handed opportunity to earn spot on Great Britain SailGP team
Bermuda’s Emily Nagel is one of six female sailors vying for a spot on Great Britain’s SailGP team; but will not be involved in the championship opener this weekend.
With just four days to go until the start of SailGP Season 2, which commences with the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, the Great Britain SailGP team have unveiled their line-up for the global sailing championship.
The core of the team is the same that put on a series of impressive performances to win the last SailGP event with a clean sweep in Sydney in 2020, before the rest of the season was postponed because of Covid-19, while also featuring six sailors who were recently together with the British challenger for the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
The team’s F50 catamaran will once again be helmed and skippered by the world’s most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie. Joining him is fellow Olympic gold medal-winner Iain Jensen, who returns as wing trimmer, and flight controller Luke Parkinson, who was most recently seen piloting the British boat in the America’s Cup.
The grinder roles, meanwhile, are filled by Olympic gold medal-winning rower Matt Gotrel, Neil Hunter and Richard Mason. All three grinders have been part of the Great Britain SailGP team since the first season.
As part of the SailGP’s gender-equality initiative, which will see female athletes included for the first time, Nagel as well as Hannah Mills, Anna Burnet, Hannah Diamond, Ellie Aldridge and Nikki Boniface will be offered the opportunity to trial before a final decision is made on the successful athletes who will join the British team full time.
However, Nagel, who was part of the British team as a data analyst during SailGP’s inaugural season in 2019, will miss out on the opportunity to be involved in her “home” grand prix.
That is because in Bermuda, Mills, an Olympic gold medal-winner in the women’s 470 in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and silver medal-winner at London 2012 — where she was a team-mate of Ainslie — has been named as the team’s first triallist.
In the next two events after Bermuda, the five remaining female sailors will be given their opportunity, with Burnet trialling in round two in Taranto, Italy, while Diamond, Aldridge, Boniface and Nagel will complete their respective trials in the third round in Plymouth.
“Alongside the racing it is also exciting to begin our female development programme,” said Ainslie ahead of the season opener this weekend.
“We share SailGP’s commitment to accelerate change in our sport and look forward to integrating the six triallists over the next three events.
“All professional athletes want to race at the highest level and the line-up for SailGP Season 2 has to be the most competitive we have ever seen in the sport.
“Sydney was a great start for our team and while Covid brought things to a halt, we were able to keep the same squad together, meaning we head into the opening event knowing we can win races.
“It is going to be an intense season and we are ready to get back out racing.”
Meanwhile, Mills spoke of the magnitude of the opportunity being offered to her and her fellow triallists ahead of her first outing with the team in Bermuda.
“This is a big opportunity and I’m looking forward to working alongside the team to learn as much as I can during my time in Bermuda,” she said.
“My fellow triallists are hugely talented and it will be tough challenge to earn the full-time spot. However, I’m a quick learner, a hard worker and incredibly motivated, so it’s down to me to make the most of it.
“SailGP is setting the standard for female inclusion in sailing; it will be particularly inspiring for young female sailors to know that these types of opportunities are available at the very top level of our sport.
“I first met Ben at an Optimist event when I was an over-excited 11-year-old and he’d won his first Olympic medal. Roll on ten years and we were in the same team going to London 2012. It was massive for me to be in a team with Ben, watching and learning how he operated. The same will be true during this trip.”