A two-time Olympic medallist is hoping a new initiative for the Sail GP will open up more genuine pathways for female sailors in the sport.
Jo Aleh is part of a group of top female sailors up for selection for the New Zealand team in its first season of the Sail GP – an international sailing competition using high-performance F50 foiling catamarans – as part of an scheme to have at least one woman embedded in each of the crews.
The silver and gold medallist believes the initiative could go a long way to raising the sport here and abroad.
“I think it gives sailing a chance to be a leader in sport worldwide,” she said.
“Hopefully the young girls coming up will see my career won’t top out at the Olympics.”
The cause is being backed by some of New Zealand’s top male sailors too with Blair Tuke and Peter Burling right behind it as the New Zealand team’s co-chief executives.
“Historically as you move more into sailing and bigger teams in that sailing type there has been a gap and it has been male sort of dominated,” Tuke said.
“We're kind of growing this team from the ground up and to really give these girls some pretty amazing opportunities is something that makes us proud,” Burling added.
Aleh said the inclusion from the get-go gives her hope that this could create meaningful change.
“You’re not dropping someone in, you’re trying to develop a pathway and make it sustainable for the future,” she said.
“Hopefully with the benefits of creating more diverse teams, [we] can perform better because diversity of thought leads to far more innovation.”