Why the Sail Team BCN women's team has already made history

There is no doubt: the thirty-seventh edition of the America's Cup is destined to go down in history.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
30 March 2024 Saturday 10:23
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Why the Sail Team BCN women's team has already made history

There is no doubt: the thirty-seventh edition of the America's Cup is destined to go down in history. For the first time in 137 years, the world's largest sailing event will feature a competition featuring exclusively women, which will take place between September 28 and October 13.

Furthermore, Barcelona will be the venue for this important sporting event, whose impact on the city is estimated to be only comparable to the celebration of the 1992 Olympic Games. We are, therefore, faced with a magnificent opportunity – as sources from CaixaBank, sponsor, have pointed out. official of the Spanish women's team, baptized Sail Team BCN, and another made up of a crew of young sailors under 25 years of age – “to continue working in favor of the full incorporation of women in all areas, in this case, recognizing the talent and achievements of our athletes.”

At CaixaBank they are clear that “we are proud to be a Barcelona entity. At the same time, we know that we have the responsibility to contribute to society by returning everything it has given us. For this reason, we believe that we must be present at such an important event for the city, expressing our support for the youngest people and women who work daily for equality and the dissemination of the values ​​of sport."

Despite their youth, the five members of Sail Team BCN already have an impressive resume: Támara Echegoyen (Orense, 1985), among other titles, holds a gold medal won in London 2012; Paula Barceló (Palma de Mallorca, 1996) is the 2021 world champion, along with Támara; Silvia Mas (Barcelona, ​​1996), gold medalist in the 2021 470 World Championships and participant in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games; Neus Ballester (Palma de Mallorca, 2003), the youngest of the team, has already been crowned U21 European champion in the continental youth championship of the 470 class, and María Cantero (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 1997) is a youth world bronze medalist and member of the Spanish SailGP team.

The presentation of the Puig Women's America's Cup took place last Tuesday, March 19, in Port Sitges, which is also the official training base of the Spanish team. The palpable excitement at the arrival of this event could be condensed into “the desire to do things well” that Albert Bertran, executive president of the port of Sitges, expressed in his presentation. Bertran thanked the mayor of the coastal city, Aurora Carbonell (who also spoke a few words at the end of the event), the sponsors, such as CaixaBank, and also the assembled journalists for his presence.

Next, he outlined the triumphs achieved by Sitges, a pioneer in various social and sporting activities, from the creation of the first oval racetrack on the planet to the first adapted sailing school in Spain; and he also spoke of the international impact of Barcelona, ​​“the first city in the world to host the Olympic Games, a World Cup and now a Copa América.”

As Guillermo Altadill, head of Sail Team BCN, pointed out, the team “was born with the designation of Barcelona as the headquarters of the Copa América. From the beginning, we were clear that we wanted to form a group of women capable of being among the greatest.” For this sailor with a long career (as proven by the seven trips around the world that he has managed to complete), the competition is a magnificent opportunity, “first of all, to learn how to handle a boat like the AC40, practically capable of flying. And also to lay the foundations so that the next generations can continue the legacy of these athletes.”

The crew members expressed themselves along the same lines. For María Cantero, the creation of this new women's category of the Copa América represents "considerable progress for the incorporation of women into the world of sailing." Paula Barceló, for her part, believes that there is still an evident disproportion in the participation of men and women that must be corrected with proposals like this: “Women's competition is the beginning of a process towards equality that must continue, to go consolidating in the coming years.”

As Neus Ballester explains, coming from a family of prestigious sailors who are responsible for guiding him on his particular journey in the world of sailing, the sailors have managed to form a solid and structured team. “We have talent and experience, we get along very well with each other and we know how to work as a team. At the same time, we are aware that we are facing an important challenge, since we compete with high-level athletes. We are training hard and working with a simulator to try to get the best results,” he explains.

The members of Sail Team BCN have also known how to create bonds of camaraderie with other teams. As Silvia Mas points out, “in the water we are very competitive, but on land we are all very friends.” The 37th edition of the America's Cup will also allow us to see how technology is transforming the practice of sailing. “Now, physical appearance is no longer a determining factor like before. We are used to sailing touching the water and now, instead, we enjoy the adrenaline of boats that fly and reach higher speeds. You also have to know how to operate the electronic systems, with buttons, steering wheels and hydraulics,” says Mas. In his opinion, this makes sailing an especially complete sport, “which combines physical activity, mastery of the technical part, which is a real engineering challenge, fluid dynamics, mathematics..., and the ability to know how to manage less predictable elements during navigation, such as wind or waves.”

Mas also values ​​the work of CaixaBank, an entity that has been supporting and promoting elite sport in Spain for more than 30 years: “Its sponsoring role is essential for us,” he points out. “Not only because of the financial support, but also because they are involved in values ​​that we share, such as the promotion of high-level sports, the promotion of women, inclusivity or sustainability.” Cantero does not hesitate to affirm that “without them, these types of projects would not be possible. The support of brands and organizations is essential so that athletes like us can make our dreams come true.”

Of course, the prominent presence of women in all sports is not a recent issue. Barcelona'92 was already a milestone for our country in this area. Among the various achievements that were achieved, it should be noted that the celebration of the Olympic Games in Barcelona was, in a way, the origin of the current rise of women's sports. The performance of the pioneers who won Olympic gold for our country in that important event, such as Theresa Zabell and Patricia Guerra (in sailing), the women's hockey team or Almudena Muñoz and Miriam Blasco (in judo), served to pave the way for other athletes who have come after.

Now, the Puig Women's America's Cup will further promote the necessary progress towards equality, also highlighting a sporting practice such as sailing, in which our country has obtained its greatest triumphs, becoming a true world reference. Without a doubt, Támara Echegoyen, Paula Barceló, Silvia Mas, Neus Ballester and María Cantero will manage to write a new and important page in the history of the oldest and most prestigious sailing trophy in the world, which is now, thanks to this new female modality, being prepared to continue looking towards a hopeful future.