Royal Lymington Yacht Club's Hattie Rogers wins Inspire Waszp Grand Final Championship of Champions in San Francisco and helms F50 with Sir Ben Ainslie
ROYAL Lymington Yacht Club’s Hattie Rogers led her races from start to finish to win the Inspire Waszp Grand Final Championship of Champions in San Francisco.
The former Walhampton School pupil, representing Great Britain with fellow sailor Zac Blomeley, 20, fought off stiff competition from Norway’s Mathilde Robertstad and Pearl Lattanzi of the USA to win the female championship crown.
The youth Waszp event runs alongside SailGP, the international sailing circuit’s equivalent of F1. Youth sailors were selected to compete in their national SailGP Inspire event, and the male and female winners from each nation met at the grand final.
Rogers won nine out of the 11 races, with two second-place finishes, to claim victory; Sean Herbert from New Zealand claimed the male championship.
Rogers, who first helmed at just four years old, said: “The format of the fast-paced races was downwind slalom with a reaching start, which puts pressure on your boat handling, punishing any slight mistake made.
“On the first two days, racing was directly in front of the SailGP grandstand with large crowds and loud commentary, which was a great experience!”
Before the Grand Final, while getting ready for the Inspire racing training days, Rogers’ week took an unexpected turn after receiving a surprise phone call inviting her to step up to the F50 with Sir Ben Ainslie.
The 21-year-old grasped the opportunity with both hands, even getting a chance to drive the F50.
A former British Optimist champion at junior and senior girls’ levels, she said: “Just a few minutes after I took the wheel, a gust came through, and we bore away and hit 48.2 knots! It was surreal with Ben looking back at me from the grinding position with the biggest smile on his face. I was unaware of the exact speed until the shore team told me I was the fastest women helm in an F50.
“I had to pass safety training before being allowed on the F50. In many ways it was good that I went into the safety training with no time to think about it as it was pretty brutal – not everyone passes!
“The F50 is extremely professional. This is a class where the shore teams, support boats, data analysts and technical support are absolutely critical.
“The sailing was incredible, surrounded by the best sailors in the world.”
Afterwards, the most successful sailor in Olympic history, Sir Ben, posted on social media: “Nice work Hattie, stepping up from Inspire sailor to member of the crew in two days!
“Helmed at 48.2 knots!”
Rogers added: “I can’t thank my family, my sponsors, Royal Lymington Yacht Club, the RYA and all the coaches over the years enough for believing in me and helping me to chase my dreams.”