Training Camp #3 Update

Written by: Ross Banham

Written by: Ross Banham

Last week, Athena Pathway had a training camp on the ETF26 in Weymouth that I had the privilege of attending. In these times where our sport is evolving so much in terms of opportunities, I wasn’t surprised to see the excitement surrounding Athena Pathway around the boat park upon arrival.

The last time that I was in Weymouth was when I won the WASZP UK Nationals in June earlier this year. Coming back here to be involved in a professional sailing team feels like a huge step in my sailing career.

We had a successful four days of sailing in Weymouth climbing the steep learning curve on the Easy To Fly 26 (ETF). Our main goal was to determine roles and responsibilities on-board, as this boat is usually sailed with three people, and we were four. For the first three days, we focused on boat handling. Nature was kind too, and we could practice in all conditions, ranging from light to relatively heavy winds. It was clear that after each manoeuvre, we were gelling more and more as a team. This allowed for Hannah Diamond and Nicki Boniface to focus more on tactics and racing the boat and for Hattie Rogers and me to focus on setting the boat up for each manoeuvre whilst flying the boat. Being the furthest forward person on the boat, my responsibility in a gybe is to keep my weight as far forward as possible during this manoeuvre which involves going to the front net. It’s almost a similar stance to a WASZP gybe but in this instance, I can see both foils and the water which is an exhilarating feeling.

Our progress was sped up with the help of our boat captain, Sophie Heritage, helping us make the necessary changes to the boat that we needed. We also had SailGP and America’s Cup Sailor, Luke Parkinson, who coached us over the four days. He brought a lot of advice and support from his GC32 career and of course from his role as flight controller on-board the SailGP F50 and INEOS Britannia. 

It's great to have a pathway programme for youth and female sailors. Being involved in the Athena Pathway has given me a chance to work with some of the best sailors in the world and evolve my personal sailing career. Additionally, sailing on a boat that is female dominated in the past would be almost unheard of, but the Athena Programme is setting the example in breaking down boundaries.

I feel very fortunate to be involved with the Athena Pathway, it's awesome to see how much its progressed in such a short space of time but one thing is clear, this is only the beginning. 


* This article was written by Ross Banham, a male youth sailor a part of Athena Pathway