Athena Pathway programme was launched in August 2022, with the aim to create equal opportunity on and off the water in professional sailing and with a mission to win the first Women’s and Youth America's Cup regattas for Britain.
Penny Clark visited INEOS Britannia HQ in Palma Mallorca to see their AC40, officially named ‘Athena’. The boat will be used by Athena Pathway for the Women's and Youth AC Regattas, due to take place in Barcelona in 2024.
“So, I have come out here today to basically have a look at the AC40 and primarily see what it takes to get one of these boats on the water ready for when the women's and youth teams get their hands on one and we can put one the water and go sailing.”
This year, the sailors will participate in the ETF26 circuit, a new class of 26ft, super-light foiling catamarans.
“Recently we've run a women's selection camp and a youth selection camp down in Weymouth, to look at sailors in order to build the ETF squad and go racing this year. Primarily what we're doing is teaching people about foiling and seeing how quickly they learn and pick up new skills because there is a lot of people in the programme that have never gone foiling. And of the things that we know is that the skills you need to race an ETF aren’t the same. You need the ability to learn fast pickup listen switch on and be a completely all involved sailor it's not just about being a Rockstar and turning up and jumping on board and sailing it. It's about learning about rigging, looking after the boat, and putting it away properly; so all those skills that we are going to be teaching in this ETF programme.”
“So, this year we're going to race in the ETF circuit and get the sailors involved in that. But hopefully towards the end of the year will be able to get some sailors actually on the AC40 and getting involved and then in the short term is get some short crew running alongside INEOS Britannia so that they can learn how to put this boat in the water which will help the team here in Palma so that they have more people getting this boat sailing but it will also upskill some of our team so that they can be in charge when we get the AC40.”
Penny’s mission is to prepare the next generation of female sailors to compete at the highest level, and watching the AC40 in action has inspired her even more.
"I've said all along that I'm here for the next generation of women, and watching that boat today, I just wanted to get onboard and go sailing...it looks phenomenal! It is brilliant to be here and see to see it firsthand."