Geneva – February 24, 2022. In less than three months, the Switzerland SailGP Team will make its debut in the world’s most exciting racing on-water, SailGP. The team will first race its cutting-edge, hydro-foiling F50 in Bermuda, the first event of SailGP’s third season, with an all-star line-up which was announced today.
The Switzerland SailGP Team was launched back in September 2021 and since then has been building a brand-new, young team from the ground-up. To accelerate the team’s progression and development in the league – which features the sports best athletes – the team has recruited top Olympic talent including Olympic gold and silver medalist, Stuart Bithell and fellow two-time Olympian Jason Saunders.
Switzerland SailGP Team CEO, Tanguy Cariou said: “It’s been five months since we first launched the Switzerland SailGP Team and our focus has been on building the team and recruiting the right people, in the right positions, to set us up for the best success when we enter the championship for the first time.
“Our goal has always been to create a competitive team, but we know it takes a lot to be at the front with the best in this global league. So first, we need to learn how to sail and race the F50. We have brought onboard two athletes who have prior SailGP racing experience with Olympic backgrounds and achievements, in the roles of wing trimmer and flight controller, to help us fast track these learnings. It will make for a good and complementary crew line up on the racecourse.”
At 26, Sébastien Schneiter – from Geneva – will be the youngest ever driver to take part in SailGP. Strengthening his SailGP team for Season 3 is double Olympic medalist, Stuart Bithell MBE (GBR) and Olympian, Jason Saunders (NZL).
Until late, Schneiter and Bithell were training partners – and rivals – in the high-performance Olympic 49er class. Schneiter has represented Switzerland twice at consecutive Olympic Games, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020; where Bithell claimed his second Olympic medal - gold. Saunders is also a double-Olympian, competing in the 470 class at London 2012 and the Nacra in Rio 2016. Saunders raced alongside Schneiter in the 2021 GC32 World Championship where they finished on the podium. The trio recently competed together for the first time, winning the Bacardi 69F Cup in Miami.
The new recruits bring prior SailGP racing knowledge and experience. Bithell raced in 2019 as part of the Great Britain SailGP Team, finishing fourth in the league’s inaugural season. Throughout Season 2, Saunders has stepped in as interim wing trimmer for both the New Zealand and United States SailGP Teams, competing at events in Taranto, Plymouth and Aarhus.
Both will assume new roles onboard the Swiss F50, Bithell as wing trimmer and Saunders as flight controller – key roles in the high-speed boat’s performance.
The team will be supported by Italian Coach Jacopo Plazzi, a young but experienced high-performance racer. Among his many accolades is the 36th America’s Cup where he was coach to the Italian Prada Luna Rossa team.
Switzerland SailGP Team Driver, Sébastien Schneiter said: “I’m really proud and excited to bring a Swiss team into the SailGP and look forward to the start of the season in three months in Bermuda. The F50s are super powerful and tricky boats to sail and there’s a lot of communication and coordination needed to race these boats at the highest level. Stuart, Jason and Jacopo have a lot of experience between them and will be hugely valuable to help us learn, grow and progress the team in our first season.”
With fifty percent of the race team announced for Season 3, the team will continue trials to recruit its grinders and Swiss female athletes, who will race onboard the F50 as part of SailGP’s Women’s Pathway Programme. Further team announcements will be made within the next few months.