27 February 2023
Live Ocean Racing has announced the return of New Zealand’s foremost female foiling sailor Liv Mackay to lead the team for a tilt at the ETF26 Grand Prix 2023 series kicking off in Europe this April.
Returning with her is 2016 Olympic silver medallist Alex Maloney. Fresh faces Serena Woodall and Seb Menzies, along with reserve sailor George Lee Rush, were welcomed into the Live Ocean Racing fold today. Jason Saunders continues as coaching support and Andre Van Dam joins the team as boat captain.
The European based ETF26 Grand Prix series is heating up, attracting more entries this year than ever before. It’s expected there’ll be at least 11 teams line up for 2023 – a step up from eight on the start line in last year’s ETF26 events.
In its second year, Live Ocean Racing will be gunning for victory in the five-event series raced in high-speed foiling catamarans at venues across France, Italy and Spain, starting in April.
“I’m stoked to be leading the Live Ocean Racing team again. Last year was our first go in the ETF26 so there was lots of learning about the boat and about sailing as a team. With that experience we’re in a great position to crack into the 2023 season and race for a top of the podium finish in this year’s series,” says Liv Mackay.
Live Ocean Racing was launched in April 2022 by sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. The pair founded marine conservation charity Live Ocean Foundation in 2018 and the independent racing team is a continuation of their ambition to drive action for a healthy ocean.
Tuke says, “It’s a pleasure to announce the Live Ocean Racing team to take on this year’s ETF26 series. With more teams on the start line I think we’ll see the on-water competition really ramp up.
“We have world-class talent and experience on board with Liv back as skipper, and Alex in the core team. Others from the 2022 team have chosen to focus their attention on their Olympic campaigns in the build-up to Paris 2024, which opens the opportunity for us to welcome some exciting emerging sailing talent to the Live Ocean Racing whānau.”
Last year’s all female Live Ocean Racing line-up has proven to be a kick-starter for some of New Zealand’s top sailing talent to break into high profile foiling sailing leagues which in recent years have often been the exclusive territory of male sailors. This year the focus on pathway development for female sailors remains, while at the same time Live Ocean Racing brings on board emerging youth sailors, including 18-year-old Seb Menzies, one of the most impressive young sailors seen in New Zealand in the last decade.
Skipper Liv Mackay says, “Competing in 2022 ETF26 series gave us the chance to step outside the single and double-handed dinghy and skiff sailing classes and go racing on an awesome, high-speed foiling catamaran with a larger crew – and that opens doors to new opportunities. For me that’s included sailing with New Zealand SailGP team on the F50, and more recently to be part of Emirates Team New Zealand’s two-boat testing programme. Sailing with Live Ocean Racing in 2023 has the potential to bring similar opportunities for Alex, Serena, Seb and George.”
Newcomers to Live Ocean Racing have Burling and Tuke as role models to look to as they become ocean champions themselves.
Mackay says there’s real interest in the inception of a purpose-led racing team; “When competing at international events I’m frequently asked about the purpose behind Live Ocean. It’s a privilege to represent Live Ocean, and to talk with people about it as I learn more about the issues facing the ocean that connects us all.”
Tuke says, “As ocean athletes we have a unique opportunity to use power of sport and the platform it provides to shine a spotlight on the health of the ocean. We need a healthy ocean for a healthy future.
“Our vision when we launched Live Ocean Racing was to rethink what a professional sports team looks like – and that is on-going. With purpose at the heart of the team, our ambition is for Live Ocean Racing to continue to race for Aotearoa taking on awesome challenges at the pinnacle of sport, while championing action for the ocean on the world stage.”
The 2023 ETF26 SERIES will comprise of five European based events;
Spi Ouest-France / April 7 to 10, 2023 / La Trinité sur Mer (France)
Raid Quiberon / May 31 to June 3, 2023 / Quiberon (France)
Foiling Week / June 28 to July 1, 2023 / Lac de Garde (Italy)
Grand Pavois La Rochelle Foiling Event / September 20 to 23, 2023 / La Rochelle (France)
Grand Prix Foiling Mar Menor / October 4 to 7, 2023 / Los Alcazares (Spain)
You can follow the action from the first event of the ETF26 SERIES on @itsliveocean.