SailGP’s groundbreaking Impact League – sport’s first podium for the planet – has announced an exciting expansion of its panel with the addition of esteemed judges from the world of football and motorsport.
Joining the purpose-driven league are Kelly Simmons, former Director of the Women’s Professional Game at the Football Association (FA), Ellen Jones, Head of ESG at Formula 1, Sanjay Bhandari, Chair of Kick it Out, English football’s leading inclusion charity, and Ryan Storr, Australian-based Co-Founder of the LGBTIQ+ sport charity Proud2Play.
These new members complement an already star-studded panel which includes Arizona Cardinals player Kelvin Beachum, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Rachel Kyte, National Geographic Young Explorer Sharona Shnayder, A Plastic Planet Co-Founder Sian Sutherland and three-time motorsports W Series Champion Jamie Chadwick.
Each judge brings unique insights and strategies to evaluate SailGP’s teams on specific sustainability and inclusivity initiatives.
Pioneered in Season 2, the Impact League is a second leaderboard running alongside the Season Championship that tracks the positive actions SailGP’s teams make to reduce their carbon footprint and accelerate inclusivity in sailing throughout the season.
At the end of the season there are two podiums, with the Impact League winner crowned alongside the Season Champion and earning funding for its purpose partner.
The world-first initiative is already delivering on its promise to embed sustainability action into the fabric of sport and ignite the competitive nature of its world-class athletes. 80 percent of SailGP athletes believe the Impact League has changed the way they behaved, while two thirds said the Impact League has the potential to change the mindsets of fans to act more sustainably.
Now in Season 4 with sustainability well embedded in the ten competing teams, they now deliver a baseline of ‘business as usual activity’ at each race such as minimizing energy usage, sustainable travel, waste management and inclusive operations, while being rewarded with significant points for delivering activity across the following key focus areas:
- The race to zero waste // creating a sustainable future
- Accelerating inclusion // advancing diversity and equity in sailing
- Climate action // innovating for a low carbon future
- Breaking boundaries // driving gender equity through the Women’s Pathway
Former Director of Women in Football, Kelly Simmons, judging the breaking boundaries category, said: “The collective of sport has an unparalleled platform to inspire fans to take action which is why I’m so excited to be part of this caliber of judges. I love the Impact League concept that brings out the competitive nature of athletes and shows how small actions can have a big impact. It’s great to be part of this initiative that pushes the boundaries and sets new standards for sustainability in sport.”
Midway through Season 4, the Impact League has already made significant strides. The Australia team's pioneering method of reducing single-use plastics for emergency on-water repairs garnered acclaim, winning the first major focus area – the Race to Zero Waste. This innovative approach is now set to be adopted across the entire league’s fleet and shared with the wider sailing world, aiming to significantly cut waste industry-wide.
As a result, Tom Slingsby’s Australia team sits at the top of the Impact League leaderboard, followed closely by Sebastian Schneiter’s Switzerland in second and Giles Scott’s Emirates GBR in third. But that all could change when the results of the upcoming focus area – Accelerating Inclusion, which rewards teams for advancing diversity and equity in sailing – is announced at the upcoming KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix, February 24-25.
SailGP Chief Purpose Officer Fiona Morgan said: “The diversity and global expertize of our judges is simply phenomenal. Their participation not only validates the Impact League’s vision but propels us further in redefining the role of sport. Through this group’s experience, vision and passion we will push ourselves even further, collaborate deeper and identify key sustainability solutions with the potential to realize huge societal and environmental benefits. We’re not just advocating for change but actively creating a new narrative for how sports leagues can and should operate, with purpose at the heart.”
To find out more visit the Impact League website.