Swiss shore team manager Chris Hill joined the league with the team at the start of Season 3. Originally from Australia, Hill has a background in boat building and met his Swiss wife while building racing yachts for the 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia. Hill first got involved with the Swiss team during Covid when he got to know CEO Tanguy Cariou through the TF35 circuit on Lake Geneva - just as the Switzerland SailGP Team was beginning to form. Ahead of the Dubai Sail Grand Prix, we catch up with Chris to talk about the biggest challenges of his role and how he first got involved with SailGP.
Talk us through the scope of your role
I’m responsible for coordinating our shore team and on-shore operations. This includes setting up and packing down our team base and F50 for each event, as well as launching and craning out our F50 each sailing day. As a large part of the maintenance and repair work for all F50s is done by the SailGP Tech Team, good communication is required between each team and the Tech Team to ensure everything goes smoothly and everyone is on the same page. In addition to that, I am also the rescue swimmer for our team, so in the event of an injury, accident or capsize with our F50 I am responsible for coordinating a response with the SailGP medical and salvage teams.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Working with great people! Working in a team environment with some of the highest-level people in the industry is always interesting and good fun.
Did you always want to work in sailing?
Not necessarily, I did a boat building apprenticeship after finishing high school and was mostly interested in hands on technical work. I was lucky enough to work on building a few successful racing yachts in the early 2000s and became hooked on the constant push for development, innovation and high performance associated with yacht racing.
What would you be doing if you didn’t work in sailing?
Probably some kind of technical role in a similar industry, such as motorsport or aerospace.
What’s your favorite SailGP racing venue?
I really enjoyed the Chicago event. It was a really iconic backdrop and a great vibe.
Best SailGP moment so far?
The first day sailing our brand new F50 in Bermuda at the start of season 3. A few minutes after leaving the harbour, the crew did their first bear away and were immediately doing speeds up to 90 km/h. It's a strange feeling to be going full throttle in a 600hp chase boat and not being able to catch up to the yacht!
Who is your biggest sports icon?
Travis Pastrana. I grew up riding dirt bikes and loved the way he was always pushing the limits of what was possible, but also having loads of fun at the same time.
What did you do before you worked for SailGP?
My background is in boat building, I have worked on quite a few different race boats as well as being part of build and shore teams for a couple of Volvo 70 and America's Cup campaigns.
Your most memorable moment at sea?
Sailing up the English Channel, doing 37 km/h+ at night on a Volvo 70 with a lot of traffic around.
What’s your favorite thing about SailGP?
It's a great compromise between one-design and development classes. The one-design aspect of it gives the ability to deliver a lot of exciting racing events in a season, at the same time, the boats are constantly being upgraded and improved. The ideas and experience from all teams are used to develop the fleet as a whole.
What is your career highlight?
I find it hard to isolate one point, every time a boat I have built, or team I have worked with gets a good result, or sets a new record is all pretty rewarding. Hopefully the best is yet to come!
The most challenging thing about your job?
Trying to stay in front of the next problem. There are so many moving parts involved with an event like this. Every new venue and sailing day has its own challenges, and it's never what you expect.