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Athena Foiling Pathway Delivered by the Performance Academy

June 26, 2023

Athena Foiling Pathway Delivered by the Performance Academy

  • Athena Pathway, led by Hannah Mills OBE, will work with the Performance Academy to deliver the Athena Foiling Pathway, with support from WASZP.  
  • The programme aims to create a pathway for young sailors into the America’s Cup and professional foiling racing.  
  • The programme will begin in August 2023, with a 5-day Junior Foiling Pilot Week at Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy.  

Partnering with the Andrew Simpson Performance Academy to deliver the Athena Foiling Pathway is a huge step towards retaining more young people in our sport and delivering a pathway for female and youth sailors to develop a career at the top end of our sport.” 

 – Hannah Mills OBE 

Athena Pathway is delighted to introduce the Athena Foiling Pathway, delivered by the Performance Academy, with support from WASZP. The Performance Academy continues the brilliant work that the Andrew Simpson Foundation and its not-for-profit centres achieve, creating a pathway of support and opportunities from entry-level sailors through to elite athletes.  

As a key part of the new programme for female and youth athletes headed by Hannah, the partnership directly aligns with our aims and objectives as an organisation, to inspire and provide more opportunities, experience, and skill development for young people on the water. In this case, providing talented young sailors in the Performance space, not necessarily with foiling experience, with a Pathway into professional foiling racing and the America’s Cup. 

 – Richard Percy, CEO, Andrew Simpson Group.  

Athena Pathway is a new programme for female and youth athletes led by double Olympic Gold Medallist Hannah Mills (OBE), which aims 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. The Pathway has been founded with sustainability at its core, with an ethos of ‘People, Planet and Purpose’ seeking to empower athletes to use their voices to spearhead positive change.  

Hattie Rogers, the 2022 SailGP X WASZP Champion, was one of Athena’s first recruits, and it is hoped that the Athena Foiling Pathway will create further success stories like Hattie’s, inspiring more young sailors to take up the sport and producing athletes for the America’s Cup and professional foiling racing more broadly.  

Athena Foiling Pathway participants will benefit from Performance Academy’s world-class coaching and expertise, while support from WASZP will enable them to get to grips with the art of foiling in the accessible, one-design dinghy in preparation for joining the highly competitive global WASZP circuit. WPNSA, Britain’s hub of high-performance sailing, will provide world-class conditions and facilities for the program. UK WASZP distributor Sailingfast will share their technical knowledge and maintain the boats to racing standards.  

The Athena Foiling Pathway will kick off in August 2023 with a Junior Foiling Pilot week run at WPNSA, taking a group of experienced young sailors through various foiling techniques and an introduction to basic foiling racing. Phase 2 of the programme will run throughout the Autumn, with a series of outreach taster days allowing U-18 sailors to experience foiling for the first time in the WASZP to encourage them to apply for the Pathway on a longer-term basis. Phase 3 will begin in Spring 2024 with a six-weekend programme designed to develop the newly inspired and more experienced sailors’ foiling skill sets and assemble a team for the 2025 WASZP Games at WPNSA.  

The Foiling Pathway will also seek to develop sailors at Youth level through the Athena Youth Foiling Team and a BST/BSS Foiling Programme. The former will involve an annual training programme with a squad feel, including remote workshops on sports psychology and fitness and coached support at international WASZP events. The latter will comprise a series of camps to give British Sailing Team sailors from non-foiling classes a platform to hone their foiling abilities and a possible gateway into professional sailing. 

Athena Foiling Pathway Timeline

Marc Ablett, from WASZP said:  

We are thrilled to partner with the UK’s Athena Pathway. The WASZP has had a strong connection with the UK sailing scene since its inception as a class in late 2016. Our local agent Sailingfast has done an incredible job growing the fleet in this time. The WASZP is a diverse class, with strong female participation that fits beautifully with the AP values, and there is no better place than this partnership to start your foiling journey, develop your skills and gain the experience to take your sailing further. To us at WASZP, it is the perfect fit, and we cannot wait to see the next generation of professional sailors take this opportunity.” 

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