Girls stand out at O’pen Bic Worlds

Published on January 9th, 2019

U13 winner Breanne Wadley (AUS) with Sir Russell Coutts

The comment, ‘go the girls’ rang out in the clubrooms as the top five sailors in the under-13 were recognized at the 2019 O’pen Bic World Championships held in Auckland, New Zealand. What was noticeable was the fact four of the five were girls, including winner Breanne Wadley from Australia.

“That’s awesome,” said Yachting New Zealand’s Erica Dawson, who is heading up a six-month project looking into how to attract and then keep more females in the sport of sailing. “It shows there are a lot of really talented female sailors coming through. It’s will be very exciting to see where they go in the future and how they can inspire others.

“It should be common [for girls to regularly beat the boys]. We are so lucky to be in a sport where genders can race together and the eventual winners are simply the best sailors.”

Dawson has spoken to a raft of individuals as part of her research, including sailors and their parents as well as coaches, former sailors and notable individuals from other sports. She now plans to talk to the O’pen Bic Class Association.

“It’s worth looking into the Bic programme and why there’s such a strong number of girls doing well in that class,” she said. “The class not only has a focus on competition but also fun, adventure, and friendship.

“I think yacht clubs around the country can think about how they can ensure the experience for kids is as positive as possible and caters for those who want competitive racing or to muck around with their friends, or somewhere in between. The aim is to keep kids enjoying the sport for a lifetime, broadening the base of sailors and, ultimately, bringing more success.”

Yachting New Zealand are hoping to better understand what drives girls to the sport of sailing and what they love about it but, equally, what barriers they face and why many subsequently leave the sport.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do to remove barriers for females in sailing but the recent results at the O’pen Bic World Championships and the strength of the girls in the current New Zealand Optimist fleet prove that, in our sport, there’s no reason why girls shouldn’t be successful.”

Source: Yachting New Zealand

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