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Female sailors should be compulsory on America's Cup crews - yachting boss

Cheree Kinnear, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Friday, 4 May 2018, 11:56AM
David Abercrombie believes the America's Cup organisers should have gone further to push for gender equality. (Photo / Getty)
David Abercrombie believes the America's Cup organisers should have gone further to push for gender equality. (Photo / Getty)

Yachting New Zealand boss David Abercrombie has slammed the America's Cup class rule for not allocating a specific position for female sailors.

The AC75 class rule, written by Emirates Team New Zealand in conjunction with Luna Rossa, designates a crew of 11 to race on board the radical foiling monohulls.

Although the rule outlines that women can sail if they make the grade, Abercrombie said organisers should have gone further to improve gender equality.

"I'm disappointed. There should have been a rule to have a woman on board the new Cup boats," Abercrombie told Newsroom.

"I know people will say women can join America's Cup teams as designers, engineers and sailmakers - and they do. But there needs to be a specific position for a woman sailor on the boat."

"It's short-sighted. It would open up a whole new level of sponsors, and a whole new level of exposure."

Abercrombie's call comes after Kiwi Olympic silver medallist Molly Meech revealed her interest in entering the America's Cup scene in time for the 2021 Auckland regatta.

Meech, a dominant force in the women's 49erFX skiff alongside Alex Maloney, said she had no doubt that her physical and sailing abilities would make the grade.

"Being quite tall and strong, I think I'm potentially able to do more roles on different boats. So I wouldn't turn down an opportunity to sail in the America's Cup," Meech told Newsroom.

"If there's ever an opportunity to sail on a different boat, I always make sure I look at it."

"I've always tried out for the Youth America's Cup crews."

According to the Class Rule, the next America's Cup crew members will average at 90kg, creating an opportunity for lighter sailors.

And Emirates Team New Zealand technical director Dan Bernasconi, who lead the new AC75 design, couldn't see any reason why a woman wouldn't be able to sail the monohulls.

"When you have a number of grinders approaching 100kg, you will certainly need some crew who are lighter, in the helming, trimming and tactics roles," he said.

"I don't think there's any built-in bias in the rule against female sailors. It's purely who are the best people for the job. So, yes, it's wide open."

The last time a woman sailed on an America's Cup boat was in Valencia in 2007, while the only time Team New Zealand has had a female sailor was in 1995.

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