Foiling First to Kick off in Bristol

Last week the United States SailGP Team announced that applications have opened for community sailing organizations to join its “Foiling First” program, created to “develop foiling sailors and advance diversity and inclusion in the sport through building the first ever professional pathway to foiling in the States.

The Skeeta foiler, imported by Melges Performance Sailboats will be used for U.S. SailGP Team's domestic foiling initiative.

The Skeeta foiler, imported by Melges Performance Sailboats will be used for U.S. SailGP Team’s domestic foiling initiative. (Melges Performance Sailboats/)

“The first partner announcement came through Rhode Island’s East Bay Sailing Foundation which operates on the grounds of Bristol YC where, in late July, U.S. SailGP team members will kick off the initiative on the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay with its first foiling camp for local kids and coaches. “Since launching Foiling First we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from the American sailing community,” said U.S. SailGP Team CEO and Driver Jimmy Spithill in a team statement. “We’re looking forward to working with Bristol Yacht Club and East Bay Sailing Foundation and we’re excited to invite more organizations to join. It’s really encouraging to see communities ready to participate in change on and off the water.”

The program, the team says, has three components whereby organizations such as the East Bay Sailing Foundation will build a fleet of foiling boats to train locals with the support of U.S. SailGP Team sailors and coaches who will lead annual multi-day clinics. The partner organization will also then incorporate one diversity-focused organization in their community to work with, supported by Foiling First, to create introductions to the sport of sailing.

“Kids want to learn how to race foiling boats and compete like the pros do,” said Kristin Browne, board chair of the East Bay Sailing Foundation. “At the same time, as a club, we want to contribute to making our sport more inclusive and we’re excited to partner with Foiling First and the U.S. SailGP Team to help begin that change.”

The Foundation will host the first domestic Foiling First: Learn to Foil Camp July 20-21, in cooperation with Melges Performance Sailboats, which will supply six to eight of its Skeeta and Nikka singlehanded scow-like foilers designed by Australian designers Jim and David French. According to Browne, U.S. SailGP sailors Jimmy Spithill, Rome Kirby and Andrew Campbell will lead the clinic next month using boats provided by Melges. For 2022, a patron of the East Bay Sailing Foundation has purchased six boats for the Bristol program.

According to the announcement, Foiling First participants and coaches will also engage in educational workshops with RISE and World Sailing Trust, aimed at educating athletes on racism, social justice, and advancing inclusion in the sport. Interested candidates for the Foil First camp should contact [email protected]