- SailGP Season 4 returns to Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier for the opening event on June 16-17. National pride, personal glory and US$4.6 million at stake.
SailGP is set to ignite the global sporting stage once again when Season 4 kicks off on June 16-17 with an exhilarating opening event – Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix – in the iconic city of Chicago at Navy Pier. Boasting the biggest calendar to date and a new team on the grid, there will be all to race for in Season 4 as the sports best athletes compete for two trophies and a prize pot of US $4.6 million.
The Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final took place in San Francisco only a mere five weeks ago but the league is ready to hit the ground running again for a season of high-performance racing that pushes the boundaries of what is possible on the water. Reigning champion Tom Slingsby and his Australian team have so far proven to be the undisputed SailGP champions, but the competitiveness of the league is at an all-time high. Six teams have won a Grand Prix event in the past and every team that has participated to date has won at least one race, so it might be the season that the Aussie dominance is finally broken.
Looking to make an impact in its first season will be the Germany SailGP Team driven by double Olympic bronze medalist Erik Heil and with German-Brazilian double Olympic gold medallist Kahena Kunze as strategist. The team marries the best in German business and sport – under the ownership of entrepreneur Thomas Riedel and co-investor and four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel – and will be one to watch this season. This brings the roster to an all-time high of 10 teams including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.
One team that has had a tougher time making the start of Season 4 is the Canada SailGP Team driven by Phil Robertson. With the original team’s owners unable to meet the funding obligations outlined in the SailGP Participation Agreement for Season 4, SailGP has momentarily taken back ownership of the team while it conducts a process with a number of interested bidders to take over the Canada team ownership, which it expects to be concluded in July 2023. This means that Robertson and his Canada team – who took its first event win at the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch, beating the hometown favorites – will be on the startline for Chicago and with a point to prove to the potential new owners.
Five new iconic cities will join the 12-event calendar for Season 4. In addition to visiting previous host cities Chicago, Saint-Tropez, Taranto in Southern Italy, Andalucía-Cádiz in Spain, Bermuda, Sydney, San Francisco and New York – although the latter will be a completely new-look event with the race stadium on Governors Island – new locations have been added. These include, for the first time, events in Los Angeles, Auckland, New Zealand, Canada and the UAE. The locations in Canada and UAE will be unveiled in the coming months.
In addition to the SailGP Championship Trophy, the Impact League – SailGP’s second podium for the planet – returns with higher stakes and additional criteria to be met in order to be crowned winners in Season 4. Launched in Season 2, the Impact League scores teams on their sustainability actions and has been as hotly contested as the racing on the water. To date there have been two different winners; Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s New Zealand SailGP Team in Season 2 and last season’s winners – Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL driven by Nicolai Sehested – who cleared more than five tons of ocean-bound waste, while its Beneath The Surface sustainability content series attracted more than 25 million views on YouTube. With the competition heating up both on and off the water, Season 4 could see a third different Impact League winner crowned.
As part of its Better Sport strategy, SailGP will continue to expand its Women’s Pathway and Inspire programs. Aimed to accelerate inclusion, inspire change and provide opportunities at the elite level of sailing, over 14,500 young people around the globe have been engaged through the Inspire program’s three pathway pillars to date and 26 female athletes have participated in F50 racing. Both numbers that the league plans to increase in Season 4.
The countdown to Season 4 has seen an exciting flurry of partnership announcements, both extensions of existing partnerships and new partners signing on. Going into the new season, the league announced a major new partnership with Mubadala Investment Company, an Abu Dhabi-based international investor, as Global Series Partner and Inspire Partner for the next three seasons – until the end of 2026. In addition, APEX Group becomes the Exclusive Financial Solutions Partner of SailGP, forming a powerful cross-industry partnership where people and planet matter. SailGP also announced that it has extended and broadened its existing partnership with Oracle for a further three seasons, plus a landmark 10-season partnership with Rolex. This follows the news in Season 3 of Emirates becoming the title partner of the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team. French broadcaster Canal Plus – which has been broadcasting SailGP since its inception – has also renewed its exclusive broadcasting rights for the next five years.
SailGP managing director Andy Thompson said: "With just days to go until the start of our season opener, I am really excited for the year ahead. Not only have we launched the biggest calendar to date – with some truly iconic cities – but we have a new team on the start line which is the perfect example of how SailGP is starting to resonate with fans outside of the traditional sport and I can’t think of a better co-investor than Sebastian Vettel so I am excited to see what he brings to the German team.
“In addition, we have some amazing partnerships, some that have been with us since the beginning and some we have recently signed, which will help further the reach and impact that we can collectively have as a league across the globe. We will also be taking the sport to more fans through our extended broadcast partnerships that will see SailGP on free-to-air channels in many of our markets alongside global coverage through YouTube and SailGP digital channels. And finally, as a sport powered by nature, we will continue to build on our purpose and impact programs to ensure we continue to set the global standard for best-in-class DEI and sustainability initiatives.”