Ahead of the opening event of SailGP Season 4, Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team has unveiled a first-of-its-kind solar panel installation with its partner Low Carbon, doubling down on their commitment to become one of the most sustainable elite sports team in the world. The bespoke renewable energy installation has been created with the ambition of taking the team’s entire race operations off-grid and was unveiled at the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Just last month, Emirates GBR came third in the $1m Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco, with Australia taking home the prize and New Zealand finishing in second place. On Friday, Season 4 kicks off with racing taking place on the iconic freshwater Lake Michigan in Chicago. The fan-focused, two-day spectacle of exhilarating racing will take place on Friday and Saturday immediately adjacent to Navy Pier. The 10 -strong national fleet, including the newest addition Germany, will battle it out in short, intense races competing on the F50 catamaran, a race boat that “flies” out of the water and can reach speeds in excess of 60mph. For UK fans, it’s never been easier to watch the world’s most exciting race on water, with ITV the new official UK broadcaster of the sport. All events in Season 4 will be available to watch across the ITV digital and linear network, including ITV1, ITV 4 and ITVX.
Emirates GBR squad line-up consists of Sir Ben Ainslie as Driver, Hannah Mills OBE as strategist, Iain Jensen as Wing Trimmer, Luke Parkinson as Flight Controller, Neil Hunter as Grinder, Nick Hutton as Trimmer/Grinder, Hannah Diamond as Strategist and finally Matt Gotrel returns as Grinder after missing the last two events recovering from injury after his spectacular overboard incident in Sydney last February.
Sir Ben Ainslie said: “Chicago is definitely a firm favourite for the fleet and a great way to kick of Season 4, the freshwater element adds slightly more complexity in that it probably takes a bit more speed to get the boat up on the foils, but once you’re up its slightly less resistance, so certainly one of the faster venues. The aim for any high-performance team is to compete at optimum ability. Our goal for each season is to finish in the top 3 which puts us into the winner takes all grand final”
On Thursday evening, Emirates GBR strategist Hannah Mills got to throw the ceremonial first pitch at the Chicago Cubs baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hannah was guest of honour at Wrigley Field and was welcomed on to the pitch by cheering fans at the 40,000-capacity stadium and was the Cubs’ lucky charm as they went on to beat the Pirates 7-2.
As well as competing for the SailGP Championship, teams are also looking to score points in the sport’s Impact League, which tracks the positive actions teams make to reduce their carbon footprint and promote inclusivity in sailing. The new season is an opportunity for teams to showcase new innovations and Emirates GBR are leading the way with its renewable energy installation with Low Carbon. The system features solar panels that have the capacity to provide enough clean energy to power nearly 13,000 fridge freezers for a whole day – the equivalent of a reduction of 4 tonnes of CO2e. The installation will travel with the Emirates GBR base to all locations across the upcoming season calendar as it looks to emulate last season’s success of making the podium in the Impact League.
As part of their collaboration with Emirates GBR, Low Carbon is also a partner to the team’s charity, the 1851 Trust. The Trust and Low Carbon work together on the climate change education programme, Protect Our Future, which aims to inspire more than 5 million young people to take climate action by pursuing careers in STEM subjects. During the Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco last month, Emirates GBR and Low Carbon convened its largest Protect Our Future session to date with 200 pupils from local schools, business leaders and climate experts. Further activities to promote climate change education are planned at events across the globe for the upcoming season.
Sir Ben Ainslie said: “As a team we are dedicated to making the biggest positive impact we can on the planet. For us, winning the SailGP Impact League is just as important as securing the Championship title. We are excited to be working in partnership with Low Carbon on this first-of-its-kind renewable energy installation that will bring us even closer to our goal of net zero and show how innovation is driving us to make a difference for our planet.”
Roy Bedlow, Founder and Chief Executive of Low Carbon and a Trustee of the 1851 Trust, said: “Low Carbon was founded with the mission to make the biggest impact we can in the fight against climate change. We are excited to work with Sir Ben and the whole team who have repeatedly shown leadership as passionate climate champions. We hope that by publicly embracing renewable energy and harnessing the technology that powers it as a key component of their winning formula, we can help create a blueprint for the future of sustainable elite sport.”