via Volvo Ocean Race
The Volvo Ocean Race has launched its new youth sailing initiative for the upcoming edition of the race, the Volvo Ocean Race Academy, marking the continuation of the organisation’s commitment to youth sailing worldwide.
The Volvo Ocean Race Academy will be present in each of the stopovers and involves three activities for the young visitors to each of the Host Ports.
The first part of the youth project will be ‘Try Sailing’, where over 14,000 children worldwide will have the chance to go out on the water. Supplied 5.6m Ludics training dinghies will take children from the local schools and communities out sailing for what could be their first time. The children will also be able to receive introductory sailing skills lessons and learn about the Volvo Ocean Race.
“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,” explained Knut Frostad, CEO 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 would facilitate even more young people trying out sailing.
For the more experienced young sailors from each country, there will be the Academy Team Racing Series, the competitive pinnacle of the youth project. The competition will be held in Optimists dinghies in each of the Host Ports. The Volvo Ocean Race will be jointly organising two-day regattas in the Race Village harbours with the Optimist Class.
“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.”
A total of 40 Optimists will be provided for the Team Racing Series, which will be held on the weekend before the In-Port Race and Leg Start in each of the stopovers. There will be a special two-day schedule for the start port of Alicante, Spain and finish port of Galway, Ireland. The teams will be made up of four sailors, one of whom must be from the opposite gender. The dinghies will be branded to represent the Volvo Open 70 teams for the upcoming race and the Optimist racing teams will have the chance to meet the Volvo Ocean Race crew they’re representing.
The Academy, in conjunction with ISAF, will also conduct coaching clinics to help expand the knowledge of the sailors, coaches and race officials taking part in the series. And continuing with the instructive side of the Academy, an educational programme will take place in the local stopover schools allowing the children to learn more about the race and the sport of sailing, along with guided trips in the local Race Villages.
“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,” said Frostad. “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.
About the Optimist Class:
The Optimist Class is the world’s largest youth dinghy fleet with over 132,000 Optimists registered worldwide. The boats have a proven track record as an excellent training dinghy, with many Olympians and Volvo Ocean Race sailors beginning their sailing careers in the class.
Spanish Olympic Gold and Silver medallist Iker Martinez, is a great example. Alongside his Olympic and World Championship wins, Iker has competed in two Volvo Ocean Races (2005-06 and 2008-09) and in his second race, he helmed Telefónica Blue to four In-Port Race victories.
Martinez says the class is a great training ground. “I think that the Optimist Class is very important because when you are young, you learn a lot very quickly. The Optimist is an important foundation for children. Kids do really well in them without even knowing why. Children that sail well in Optimists show that they are talented and have a gift for this sport.”