All women NZ racing team backed by Burling and Tuke

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have launched Live Ocean Racing – a platform to bring together an all-female team of talented and diverse sailors to compete at the highest level.

The establishment of the racing team is said to supports the pair’s aim to use their sailing platform to connect people to the issues the ocean faces. The first campaign for Live Ocean Racing will be the ETF26 Grand Prix, skippered by New Zealander Liv Mackay.

The team will compete in the five-event series based in France and Italy starting this week. Mackay will be joined by a stellar lineup of Kiwi talent including Olympic and world-champion sailors Jo Aleh, Molly Meech, Alex Maloney, Erica Dawson and Jason Saunders as coach.

(L) Peter Burling, Erica Dawson, Molly Meech, Liv Mackay, Jo Aleh, Alex Maloney, Blair Tuke (R). Image courtesy of Joshua McCormack.

Inspired by the catamarans used in the 35th America’s Cup, which went on to provide the base for the F50s in SailGP, teams will compete in 26-foot one-design catamarans built for high-speed races reaching speeds of up to 35 knots.

“Sailing is evolving rapidly, with new technology and innovative boat designs dominating professional sailing,” says Mackay. “Up until now the majority of women have spent their careers in single or double-handed dinghies with very limited opportunities to move beyond that into professional campaigns and foiling boats.

“The ETF26 Grand Prix offers opportunities for more time training and competing in foiling boats, a larger team environment and a chance to hone and refine racing skills. The boats are advanced and undergoing constant refinement so it’s awesome to be leading a team taking on this challenge. And with the announcement of SailGP and America’s Cup women’s programmes, it’s exciting to see more opportunities arise.”

Live Ocean Racing will operate independently of Live Ocean Foundation but share the same vision of a healthy ocean for a healthy future.

“When we started Live Ocean Foundation, we did it with the vision of using our sailing platform for good. We’ve launched Live Ocean Racing now as we’ve seen the need to provide more opportunities for women in foiling boats and felt that this was the right time and place to start,” says Burling.

“Looking ahead, Live Ocean Racing will break the mould of traditional sailing teams assembling only for a single campaign, creating an agile team that races with purpose. ETF26 is just the beginning.”

Yachting New Zealand high-performance director Ian Stewart welcomes Live Ocean Racing and the impact it will have on the pathways for women in sailing.

“The establishment of Live Ocean Racing is a really exciting development for our sport and Live Ocean needs to be congratulated for their initial focus on opening up pathways and their commitment to a healthy ocean,” Stewart says. “These opportunities for women are long overdue and Live Ocean Racing will help inspire an inclusive generation of sailors.”

Live Ocean Racing says it will take on a range of ambitious racing events in the future.

“Our vision for Live Ocean Racing is to rethink what a professional sports team looks like,” says Tuke. “With purpose at the heart of the team, Live Ocean Racing will race for Aotearoa taking on awesome challenges at the pinnacle of sport, while championing action for the ocean on the world stage.

“Pete and I are excited to see the team get onto the water and are their biggest supporters. We’re fully committed to Emirates Team New Zealand and the New Zealand SailGP Team but in the future, we’re looking forward to sailing for Live Ocean Racing. There are some amazing challenges in sailing that we haven’t tackled yet and it’s still a few years away but taking on something like the Ocean Race with Live Ocean Racing would be awesome.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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