Bold Protocol | Youth and Puig Women's AC

CEO and Sailor of Athena Pathway, Hannah Mills, discusses the introduction of the Women and Youth America's Cup and the future for Women in sailing

CEO and Sailor of Athena Pathway, Hannah Mills, discusses the introduction of the Women and Youth America's Cup and the future for Women in sailing

The Youth & Puig Women’s America’s Cup events are set to be some of the highlights of the 37th America's Cup in Barcelona, attracting the next generation of foiling superstars who have the perfect platform to showcase their talents to the world. 

 CEO and Sailor of the Athena Pathway, Hannah Mills, discusses the introduction of the Women and Youth America's Cup and the future for women in sailing; "This is the first time we have ever had a Women's America's Cup, which is a bold statement and one that I'm personally very excited about for the future of sailing. There will be a Youth America's Cup and a Women's America's Cup. Each nation that is competing in the America's Cup must put forward a women's team and a youth team. 

“Outside of the America's Cup teams, there are six more spots outside of this, six youth and women's cup teams. That is a total of 12 teams at the youth cup and 12 teams at the women's cup. It's just this huge opportunity to bring exciting new youth talent into the America's Cup scene, plus it brings women into the fold as well, upscaling young people’s experiences and providing more opportunities that will hopefully make the future of sailing more inclusive. 

For the 37th America's Cup, the AC40 is a multi-use foiling monohull that all the confirmed teams will use for sailing and testing purposes. The AC40 is also the nominated boat for both the Youth & Puig Women’s America’s Cup events where they will be sailed in strict one-design. 

 Mills explains the roles on-board; “The Women and Youth Americas Cup regattas will both be sailed in the AC40, a 40-foot monohull foiling machine, with four sailors. Two helms, one on each side, and two trimmers sitting behind the helms, one on each side. The helm role is quite interesting because they steer the boat but also have some control over the boards and the flight control. Then you have the trimmer role; they've got control of the big mainsail and the jib. The leeward trimmer does the jib, and the windward trimmer is doing the main. There is a lot on, and it will create epic racing!   

© Cameron Gregory

Running sequentially, the Youth America’s Cup starts on 26 September 2024 and the Women’s America’s Cup on 10 October 2024. 

 Both fleets are split into two with the confirmed AC Nation Teams competing in one group and all the invited yacht clubs from around the world competing in another. Once racing begins in earnest, each group will race a Qualifying Series of fleet races, consisting of three races per day over three days for each pool to produce the top three podium teams.  Those six successful teams will then move forward to a ‘Final Series’ of four fleet races on one day to produce the top two teams who will advance on to the respective Youth and Women’s America’s Cup Single Matches to determine the respective winners.  

 Mills is excited to get racing; “We'll see a whole new generation of sailors coming through different pathways for both the Women's and Youth America’s Cup events. There is obviously the more traditional Olympic pathway, where you've got a lot of sailors competing potentially for Paris 2024 and then maybe will then have enough time to jump in and compete in the Women and Youth America’s Cup events as well. But, I also think you'll have sailors that have come through slightly different pathways now; we're seeing this generation of foiling sailors through the Waszps and the Moths. These sailors are coming through and becoming big sailing stars. It's going to be really exciting to see where we get sailors from and the different talent that gets involved. 

Athena Pathway is Britain's entry for the Youth and Womens America’s Cup, which is a new pathway for British female and youth athletes, aiming to fast-track development in professional sailing, level the playing field in high-performance foiling and bring diversity into the sport at its highest level, both on and off the water. 

“For me, the Women and Youth Americas Cup Regattas represent much more than just a competition. It's about the future of sailing, going out there and showcasing our youth and female talent across the world, what they can do in these boats and how amazing they are at sailing.  

 It is important to have both the Women's event and the Youth event to provide that whole narrative around ‘If you can see it, you can be it!’ That’s so important for young people, men, and women today, to have those opportunities to be like, 'Wow, I can see these people doing these amazing things that are maybe not something I want to do, but actually, it gives me hope and inspiration that I can go and do whatever it is I want to do. 

 That is the power of sport; it’s inspiring and showing what is possible, putting people out of their comfort zone, pushing boundaries, and that is what the America's Cup is doing with this new Regatta." 

Learn more about Athena Pathway here.