Global sailing series goes live
The much touted global series showcasing the 50-foot foiling catamarans used during the 35th America’s Cup, which Bermuda successfully hosted last year, became a reality yesterday.
Software tycoon Larry Ellison and five-times America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts officially announced their SailGP global racing league in London.
The international series will feature teams from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, France, Japan and China.
They will compete in three AC50 foiling catamarans used in the previous America’s Cup, which have been redesigned and outfitted with more one-design elements, and three new ones.
“We want each of the teams to have the same chance with emphasis on close racing,” Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, told The Associated Press. “It will be nation versus nation in fast, exciting boats, with close racing. We don’t want it be an arms race where one team takes a technological advantage over the other one. It will be close racing between top sailing teams.
“All the racing I’ve done in my life, the ones that are competitive and close are the ones you remember the most. That applies to racing fans as well.”
New components will come online during the inaugural season to enhance performance at the upper and lower ends of the wind range.
The foiling multihulls will now be referred to as the F50 and are predicted to travel 61mph in just 23mph of wind.
The cost of running a SailGP team will be $5 million a year, according to Coutts, who won the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup in Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour a record seven times between 1990 and 2004.
The SailGP series will commence in Sydney, Australia, in February and will be followed by regattas in San Francisco in May, New York in June, and Cowes, England, in August, with the finale taking place in Marseilles, France, in September. The final race will include a winners-take-all $1 million match race.
Although Bermuda was not named among the host venues for the inaugural season, The Royal Gazette can confirm that interest has been expressed locally over the possibility of the island hosting the event.
“I’m super-excited about it,” Coutts said. “I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time and the unique thing is we don’t have anything like this that exists today — and it will fill a void.”
Ellison, one of the world’s richest men, will initially cover the league’s costs before it moves to a franchise ownership model that has already attracted interest, according to Coutts.
Oracle, Land Rover and Louis Vuitton, who previously had a prominent role with the America’s Cup, are the founding partners of SailGP.
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