How you can help Chichester sailor's Tokyo Olympics dream come true

Sophie Ainsworth and Sophie Weguelin / Picture by Lloyd Images
Sophie Ainsworth and Sophie Weguelin / Picture by Lloyd Images

Chichester’s 2020 Olympic hopeful Sophie Ainsworth is hoping to buy a new boat – but needs your help.

Ainsworth, a member of Itchenor Sailing Club, and her sailing partner Sophie Weguelin have set up a crowdfunding page to help raise funds for a new 49erFX boat which they hope to use this year’s competitions, including Olympic trials and a Games test event in Tokyo.

The 49erFX is a twin trapeze, high-performance skiff class, which is the fastest women’s boat at the Olympics, and was introduced at Rio 2016.

The 29-year-olds, also known as Team Sophie, hope to raise £15,000 to contribute to the new boat, which costs £36,000 fully kitted out.

They have already had pledges of more than 50 per cent of the total they need to raise. Contributors can receive rewards from a public mention on their Facebook page to a corporate racing day.

The crowdfunding page, which is on makeachamp.com, will finish at the end of February.

Ainsworth said: “It’s going well but I think we were told that the first half of the crowdfunding is almost the easier bit, and we need to try to keep the momentum if we can.

“The main reason (for setting up the page) was that over the past 18 months, I have been to Bosham Sailing Club and presented prizes to their cadets, and have tried to inspire the youngsters with what we’re doing and keep them updated, and the same for their parents as well.

“The parents wanted to contribute but they didn’t know how, so someone suggested that we did a crowdfunding page, because then they could contribute however little or as much they liked. We’ve been surprised as to how generous people have been.”

Ainsworth and Weguelin, who studied sport and exercise science together at Exeter University, teamed up in March last year and have had a successful start to their partnership on the water.

2019 is big for the two Sophies - 2020 could be even bigger
Celebrating a century of sailing
They won bronze medals in the European and World Championships and are currently ranked seventh in the world for the 49erFX category.

The duo will want to back up those results with qualification for Tokyo 2020. However, only one pairing from Team GB can qualify from each category and Ainsworth and Weguelin will face stiff competition.

Team Sophie have come back from their training camp in Portugal as they prepare for the next regatta in the World Cup Series. They will compete in round two of the series in the Miami World Cup, which gets under way today (January 27). If they reach the medal race in the 49erFX category, then you can watch live coverage of that race on Sunday, February 3 on World Sailing’s Facebook page or their YouTube channel.

Click here to get involved – and see a video about the campaign at chichester.co.uk