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The Magenta Project and Sunsail launch ground-breaking women's sailing initiative

by Lili Sheppard 7 Feb 2020 17:00 UTC
The launch of Sunsail Magenta, with Andrew Pindar OBE, Shirley Robertson OBE, Elaine Penhaul, Helena Lucas MBE, Simon Boulding, Dee Caffari MBE and Vicky Low © Kim Hollamby / British Marine

The Magenta Project - a collective of passionate sailors committed to creating equal access and opportunities for women - announces it has joined forces with leading yacht charter company, Sunsail to launch an innovative sailing initiative.

Officially launched at The British Marine Spring Expo on 5 February at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, the initiative is designed to encourage more women to take up sailing, compete in yacht racing and consider careers in the marine industry, within the UK.

The Magenta Project, in Partnership with Sunsail (Sunsail Magenta), is a unique project that sees a global sailing brand join forces with the leading women's sailing charity for the first time.

Sunsail Magenta will deliver a number of sailing activities, including women-only RYA sailing courses, race training courses, career opportunities and mentoring programmes. It will also offer opportunities to participate in mixed-gender teams at some of the UK's biggest sailing events, including Cowes Week and the Sunsail Racing Series.

It comes following the publication of the World Sailing Trust's Strategic Review into Women in Sailing in December 2019.

The findings of the review showed that of the 4,500 people surveyed, 80% of female and 56% of male respondents believed gender balance is an issue in sailing. A lack of female participation and support for women and girls was also identified as an issue, as well as a poor perception about women in sailing, particularly in racing.

Elaine Penhaul, Chair of The Magenta Project, commented: "We very much hope that this initiative with Sunsail will help to increase the recreational and competitive opportunities for women in sailing. The Strategic Review highlighted the serious issues that our sport has in providing opportunities and pathways for women keen to progress in sailing. While the results come as no surprise to most of us, we very much hope that it will act as a catalyst for change.

"The Magenta Project was established five years ago to help create equal access and opportunities for women in sailing and in the wider marine industry. We very much hope that this exciting partnership with Sunsail will help to increase the opportunities and we look forward to welcoming all women who wish to get out on the water to be part of this initiative."

Simon Boulding, Sunsail Events Director, added: "When we were approached by The Magenta Project and learnt of the findings of the World Sailing Trust's review, we knew there was a significant opportunity to get more women onto the water. I am delighted that The Magenta Project has selected us as its partner for this new initiative. This is the most significant initiative of this type by any sailing business and it is my hope that Sunsail Magenta will open up many more opportunities for girls and women, of all experience levels, to take up sailing."

Sunsail Magenta has already attracted support from leading figures in the world of women's sailing, including Dee Caffari MBE, the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world.

"As both an ambassador for Sunsail and Chair of the World Sailing Trust, I am delighted that Sunsail have acted swiftly to the outcomes of the strategic review published late last year," commented Dee.

"Clear areas identified in the review were a lack of opportunities for women in sailing and a shortage of coaching and mentoring to encourage progression once within the industry. With Sunsail now working alongside The Magenta Project as Sunsail Magenta, they will aim to address these issues by creating a supportive environment for women sailors to gain the skills and confidence required for their chosen path.

"Sunsail already introduce more new people to the world of sailing than any other organisation and are therefore extremely well placed to support this fantastic initiative."

Also pledging support is British Paralympic gold medal winner Helena Lucas MBE. An ambassador for The Magenta Project, Helena will join the team of Sunsail's female skippers who will teach and mentor on Sunsail Magenta courses.

Helena said: "I am delighted that Sunsail and the Magenta Project have teamed up together to support women in sailing. I think this will be a great partnership reaching a wide female audience and hopefully break down the barriers faced by women trying to progress in our sport. It will offer some fantastic opportunities and I am proud and excited to be involved."

Sunsail Magenta courses will run from Sunsail's UK sailing school in Portsmouth. For more information, search Sunsail Magenta or visit

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