What Does it take to go pro with SailGP?

USA – 9/13/2022 – At the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix last week, the United States SailGP Team participated in SailGP’s Inspire Program by hosting youth athlete Lu Vivaldi as the team’s intern in Saint-Tropez.

In addition to keeping the team’s F50 in top flight shape, Lu also found time to spend reviewing performance data with U.S. SailGP Team Coach Philippe Presti and grabbed the opportunity to ask him several questions about what it takes to make it on a SailGP team.

Philippe Presti, head coach of USA SailGP Team, ahead of the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez, France. Photo by Ricardo Pinto.

What sailing background do most SailGP athletes come from?

Most of our athletes come from Olympic campaigns, there are a lot of medalists. Obviously, Jimmy doesn’t come from this background, he comes from the match racing side.

How long can they stay pro? It depends on the role obviously. There are physical roles like the grinder, but also the tactical roles like strategist and driver can last longer. We’re seeing the female athletes begin to transition between all roles. For example, on the Swiss SailGP Team, one of their female athletes competed as a grinder in Saint-Tropez rather than strategist.

How has the Women’s Pathway Program changed the competition?

The nature of our sport still goes to doing what you always did in the past. For example, always sailing with men. And there, by saying that we must have a girl I think it’s great because this is it. You discover a lot of skills beyond what some sailing is used to. The relationship of athletes onboard changes and I think that’s a great thing, bringing in new athletes always adds more respect.

I’ve never tried foiling before. What should I try?

As a class, the WASZP is one of the easiest boats to approach foiling. The skills you learn you can transfer just about anywhere.

Young sailors in the SailGP Inspire program try out the Armstrong Wing SUP board on 1 Race Day 1 of the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez, France. Photo by Felix Diemer.
Photo by Felix Diemer