SailGP unveiled - inside the launch
Sailing fans saw a glimpse of the future this evening as SailGP laid out its vision for redefining the sport during a launch event at on the banks of the River Thames, opposite London’s Tower Bridge.
With iconic harbor venues, in-shore racing, a nation vs nation format and the world’s greatest sailors racing identical supercharged F50 catamarans for a $1million winner-takes-all prize, SailGP looks set to revolutionize the sport.
The launch, hosted by TV personality Ben Shephard and with global sailing’s leading lights in attendance, saw the visionaries behind the new pinnacle of elite international sailing introduce their bold plans for bringing more fans closer than ever to the action.
With Olympic gold medalist and America’s Cup icon Russell Coutts and Oracle founder Larry Ellison spearheading the new endeavor, there is no shortage of sailing experience at the helm.
And following the event, an optimistic Coutts insisted the sport of sailing had never seen anything like this before.
Coutts, CEO of SailGP, said: ““We are not comparing ourselves to any existing sailing property – we want to be seen as totally new and don’t want to be seen as traditional sailing. If there we are comparable to anything it is to other successful new leagues and sports – that is what we want to build to. That is the vision.””
After a dazzling opening film that captured the essence of SailGP, founder and owner Ellison appeared by video link to present his concept for sailing’s evolution – a tribal series pitting Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States in an intense battle on the water.
Coutts then spoke about SailGP’s commitment to be not only a breathtaking live and broadcast spectacle, but also a force for good, using responsible practices to leave both a healthy ocean and a positive sports legacy across the globe through academies and education.
The first partners of the league were also announced with Oracle Corporation, Land Rover and Louis Vuitton welcomed into the fold by Coutts.
As a sanctioned World Sailing event, the league rules will be consistent season to season. World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt was next on deck to talk about his excitement for a new sailing series that will operate in harmony with the current calendar while offering something totally new.
The full roster of world-class SailGP sailors will be announced over the next two months but first up on home soil was the British team whose skipper was revealed to be Olympian and former world champion Dylan Fletcher.
Fletcher got his hands on the steering wheel of his F50 for the first time as Coutts presented him, Team CEO Chris Draper and the entire British team with the prototype wheel. The skipper admitted he couldn’t wait to get going with the real thing
Fletcher added: “It is going to be a real challenge, the best against the best, and we have an opportunity to really push the limits of ourselves and the sport so it is going to be really exciting getting going when we finally get on the water. The concept is such a new, exciting chapter for the sport of sailing. We have been talking about this for some time now and so for it to be coming together is really special.”
Following a question and answer session and team photo, fans were given a taste of what to expect from the adrenaline-charged racing as a visual representation of the F50 catamarans was projected onto the Thames.
Fans in Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Cowes and Marseille will be treated to the real thing as the world’s top sailors race at electrifying speeds exceeding 50 knots next year.
But for now it is all hands on deck for each country involved to ensure they’re ready for the most intense racing in the world when SailGP weighs anchor in Australia on February 15-16.