Sailing mates – one a mum-to-be – will join forces in an Australian team of women competing for an America’s Cup trophy in 2024 with a countrywide search planned to find their crewmates.
Sailing mates – one a mum-to-be – will join forces in an Australian team of women competing for an America’s Cup trophy in Spain in 2024 with a countrywide search planned to find established sailors and rising stars to fill a squad of talent.
London Olympic match-racing silver medallists Olivia Price and Nina Curtis are heading up the Australian campaign – the first female foray into the world’s oldest international sailing competition – launched on Thursday to attract sponsorship to the challenge.
And joining them for the journey will be Curtis’ first child with the Newport sailor 26 weeks pregnant but intent on resuming her sailing role with the SailGP next year alongside her sailing duties with the Australia Women’s Challenge (AWC).
“I’m looking forward to the challenge and so excited to becoming a mum,” said Curtis, one of Australia’s most accomplished a diverse sailors with an Olympic silver medal, a third in the Volvo Race round the word, Sydney to Hobarts and Sail GP racing under her belt.
“I’m excited to show we can have it all.
“I’ve got to try so many different types of sailing but this would be the icing on the cake, the one thing I wanted the most.’’
“One hundred per cent it’s not equity but it’s the first step in the right direction.’’
The news comes just a few months short of the 40th anniversary of the wing-keeled Australia’s II’s sensational victory over the US in the battle for The Auld Mug.
“It means so much to be sailing a really cool boat and to lead a women’s pathway. I think it will be just fantastic,” said helm Price, who will continue campaigning for the Paris 2024 Olympics in a 49erFX with Drummoyne Sailing Club’s Evie Haseldine.
“The America’s Cup is the pinnacle event of our sport. For women to at last be invited to compete is history making and a watershed moment we had only dreamt of.
“We have achieved at the very highest levels that women in our sport have been given access to. This is a new threshold and we are ambitious and excited to be part of history in the making.’’
The likes of Olympic medallist Lisa Darmanin and SailGP foiling young guns Tash Bryant and Lucy Copeland are three of the sailors expected to be in major contention for two of the remaining spots on the AC40 to be raced in Barcelona next year in the inaugural women’s America’s Cup where a Youth event will also be raced.
“We are also looking to do a call out to any female sailor who thinks they have the ambition and skills to come to sail in camps and help us to create a squad,” Price said.
“There are four in the crew and we’re looking at a squad between eight to 10.
“We really want to get as many young females involved as possible, to give them the experience and to give them a pathway. We may never come across these athletes unless we do this.”
NSW, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia are sailing hubs expected to produced some of the leading contenders for the squad positions.
The craft to be raced in Spain next year is a AC40 foiling monohull capable of reaching speeds in excess of 40 knots (74km/h).
With twin canting T foils, twin wheels and cockpits, they are designed to race on one foil with a battery system replacing the need for grinders and automated controls similar to a computer game used to adjust sails and foiling height.
The Women’s America’s Cup Final Match Race is due to be raced the same day of the America’s Cup Match.
Canada, The Netherlands and Spain have confirmed they will be in Barcelona with the America’s Cup teams obliged to have women’s outfits in New Zealand, Britain, Italy, USA, France and Switzerland.
“It’s pretty exciting to think we could now help write a new chapter in Australia’s sailing and America’s Cup history,” Curtis said.
Campaign Chair of the AWC is Annick Donat
Originally published as Women’s America’s Cup: Australian challenge lead by Olympians with search on for sailing squad