If the sport of sailing is going to have a future, then new stars have to come into the sport. Even with the more exciting, physically challenging multihulls and powerful offshore boats, the average age of the top players in sailing is probably higher than any other sport.
For the price of a new mainsail, hundreds, perhaps thousands of kids could be introduced to the sport, which is why it is great to see the announcement of a new youth sailing initiative by the Volvo Ocean Race.
Using the host ports as a series of bases, the project will deliver 3 activities for kids. Firstly, the race will take over 14,000 children worldwide out on the water to “Try Sailing”. For the experienced young sailors of these countries, there will be the Academy Team Racing Series. Finally, there will be an educational programme to allow the host port schools to become involved in the race and sailing as a sport.
The Try Sailing experience will take children from the local schools and communities out sailing in each host port, in supplied 5.6m Ludics training dinghies. They will be shown some basic sailing skills and learn about the Volvo Ocean Race. The race is also working on individual sailing projects with the local sailing associations and clubs to help leave a legacy in each of the ports, which will facilitate even more young people trying out sailing.
The competitive pinnacle of the project will be the Academy Team Racing Series, which will be held in Optimists dinghies in each of the Host Ports. The two-day regatta will be run in the Race Village harbours, and the race organisation is working with the Optimist Class to organise these regattas.
Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race says:
“The Volvo Ocean Race has always been committed to helping improve youth sailing and encourage young people to get out on the water. With the Try Sailing initiative we hope to get local kids energised about sailing and our race. We want to leave a lasting legacy in each of the Host Ports we visit so we are working with the local sailing associations to help achieve this goal.
We will be activating an education programme in association with each of the stopover organisations, which will also allow us to bring school children down to the Race Village and help them learn about the race.
With the Academy Team Racing Series we hope to excite the competitive young sailors of the countries to race against each other. There will be trials in each of the countries to gain places at the team racing regattas and we are looking forward to working with the Optimist Class on this project across the globe.”
More Volvo Ocean Race News.