Survey into gender design in sailing

The World Sailing Trust has launched a survey to gather baseline data on whether the design of sailing equipment is affecting the development of greater gender diversity. This new survey, launched in early October 2023, follows up on findings from its Strategic Review of Women in Sailing published in 2019.

While opinions differ among sailors about how women are treated in the sport and whether that treatment needs changing, there’s no doubt from the news that they are participating in and winning events.

World Sailing Trust was created in 2018 as a global charity to support sailing, especially through increased access. Dee Cafferty is chair of the trust and the only woman to have sailed solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions. According to Cafferty, sailing has a head start on many sports in allowing men and women to compete on a level field, but needs to build on that in all areas of sailing across the globe. Of the 4,500 people who responded for the strategic review, 80 percent of females and 56 percent of males believed that gender balance is an issue and centers around a lack of female participation and support for women and girls as well as a poor perception about women in sailing, particularly racing.

The Gender Design Survey developed out of review recommendations to bring together key designers, brands and manufacturers to develop best practices. It addresses boat design, equipment and clothing with the recognition that in this equipment-heavy sport an awareness of different needs in design is necessary not only for fairness but safety for all participants.

World Sailing Trust has been supported in the development of the survey by Women Who Sail, a 50,000-strong global community of women in the boating world, and The Magenta Project, a mentoring program which pairs rising talent with legends in the industry that developed from the 2014-15 all-female Volvo Ocean Race campaign.

The more sailors who participate in the survey, the better it will match existing and future needs. The survey can be accessed on the World Sailing Trust website or use the QR on social media – @world_sailing_trust.To view the strategic report:

Ann Hoffner