Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison may have lost the America’s Cup back in Bermuda in 2017, but it appears they are intent on stealing a march on current Cup-holders Emirates Team New Zealand with the launch of what they are calling the SailGP sailing circuit.
Announced in early October with all the fanfare only one of the world’s richest men could muster, the circuit will feature six international teams competing in five locations: beginning this February in Sydney, Australia, then moving on to San Francisco; New York City; Cowes, England; and Marseille, France. Racing will take place aboard a fleet of re-engineered AC50s—now called F50s—and include such former Cup stars as U.S. sailor Rome Kirby and UK helmsman Chris Daper. As was the case in Bermuda, stadium-style inshore courses will be used to make sure fans get a close-up look at the action. Oh, and just to keep things interesting, the season will culminate in a single, $1 million match-racing final between the top two teams.
“SailGP distills all of the most successful, exciting and relevant elements of high-performance, professional racing while adding the extra edge that comes with nation-versus-nation competition,” Coutts said. “We are aiming to be pioneers of new technologies, boat design, commercial partnerships and global audience engagement. But with every crew on the same groundbreaking F50 catamaran, this isn’t a tech arms race, rather the ultimate test to establish the best sailing team.”
And then there’s that million bucks... Kind of makes sailing for some silly old cup that doesn’t even have a bottom to it seem quaint by comparison. For the latest on Coutts and Ellison’s latest foray into the world of professional sailing, visit sailgp.com.
Photo courtesy of ACEA