The RYA has announced the latest in a series of changes to its match racing programme to provide more opportunities for Britain’s female racers.
As part of an ongoing reform of RYA Match Racing to promote diversity and equal opportunities, crews entering the Summer Match Race events as well as the new Under 19 Championships must have at least one female sailor among the team.
This follows the 2016 relaunch of the Marlow Ropes Women’s Match Racing Championships and the introduction in 2019 of the Women’s Winter Match Racing training event, both of which have led to high levels of engagement from female sailors.
The move supports recent international keelboat events such as the Ocean Race and the Midsummer Match Cup which have successfully implemented mixed crew rules.
It also follows the success of the RYA’s mixed crew rule introduction for the 2019 Student Match Racing Championships that saw female participation increase from 15 per cent to 35 per cent.
It is in the intention of RYA Match Racing to expand this plan to encompass the Harken Youth Match Racing Championships and the National Match Racing Championships Grand Final in 2021.
“In the run-up to London 2012, Britain produced some of the best female match racers in the world,” said Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Development Manager.
“After the inevitable post-Games decline, interest in match racing has been steadily growing. “We feel that it is vital that we provide female sailors with greater opportunities to compete on the match racing circuit, and by introducing a mixed crew rule to our events we hope we can empower female match racers and attract a whole new generation to our sport.”
The move has already received the backing of key figures in elite sailing.
Elaine Penhaul, chair of the Magenta Project, said: “We are delighted to see such a positive step to support and encourage gender equity in our sport. We have an imbalance to redress and this will give more women more opportunity to take part and really enhance their competitive sailing skills.”
Six-time match racing world champion Ian Williams added: “I think it is a great initiative by the RYA to introduce mixed match race regattas into its programme. We sailed the Midsummer Match Cup last year, the first Grade 1 mixed regatta, and found it a very effective way of encouraging diversity in the sport.”
The first of the Summer Match Racing events takes place at Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Burnham, on June 6 and 7. To enter any of the upcoming match racing events, or for more information about RYA Match Racing go to www.ryamatchracing.co.uk.