Going for all the marbles

Published on September 30th, 2018

The announcement on October 3 in London will reveal the details of a long-held vision of Olympic gold medalist and 5-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts to organize a global sailing series that promotes the sport in the eyes of commercial interests and sports fans.

Initially pitched in 2007 as the World Sailing League, which never progressed due to lack of funding, Coutts this time has the support of tech billionaire Larry Ellison to launch what will be called SailGP and be sailed in boats similar to the 15-meter catamarans used for the 2017 America’s Cup.

In 2019, six teams are guaranteed to compete in a 5-event circuit that begins February in Sydney, Australia before coming to the USA for events in San Francisco (May) and New York (June), with the schedule continuing on to England for Cowes Week (August) and conclude in Marseille, France (September).

It will be one design based, possibly with fleet race eliminations leading to a match race final. The boats will include several that competed in Bermuda, which have been modified, along with new boats built at Core Builders Composites in Warkworth, New Zealand.

Competing teams will represent Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan, and USA, with strict citizen requirements for the crew. It is understood there will be a 100% requirement among some of the established countries whereas it is likely the Asian teams will allow for a limited number of foreign crew in the first year.

Unlike the 6 crew needed in Bermuda, the boats have been adjusted to require only five. The USA team is believed to be led by Rome Kirby and include Riley Gibbs, Hans Henken, Mac Agnese, and Dan Morris.

It is anticipated for racing to be broadcast on free-to-air platforms but details are still being confirmed.

Coutts had attempted to instill the attributes of the World Sailing League into the 2013 and 2017 America’s Cup, but it proved too hard to deliver the continuity to secure commercial and broadcast support. But with SailGP, the control and funding needed for launch and fulfillment is secured.

More to come on October 3rd…

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