SailGP in a race to go green
Published on February 23rd, 2020
Six teams showcased the inaugural season for SailGP in 2019 which seeks to deliver an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing among rival national teams. With identical F50 catamarans blistering across three continents and five venues, the climax was a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.
But the race is as much on the water as it is in the boardroom for commercial support to sustain the league. To help that sales pitch, SailGP is going green, balancing its globe-trotting format with a plan to reach zero carbon by 2025.
We hope they make it, both to 2025 and to zero carbon. Here’s their announcement:
SailGP will focus on three core pillars – process, people and tech – going beyond best practices, inspiring communities, and driving disruptive innovations both within the sport and across the industry.
Sustainability has been embedded in the fabric of the organization – which is powered by nature – since its inception 16 months ago. With an increased sense of urgency in Season 2, SailGP will build on the foundations from year one, including via a technical project with Tesla.
In advance of the Season 2 opening event, following eight months of collaboration and development, a mobile off-grid solar and Tesla Powerwall system was installed in Sydney to power the battery container for the revolutionary F50 race boats.
As part of the pilot program, 36 400W solar panels were installed in the Sydney SailGP Technical Area, along with Tesla Powerwalls. In the past, renewable power was lengthy and costly to install, but the new solution enables the solar kit to be assembled and dismantled quickly and transported from event to event.
If the test is successful, it will lead to much wider use of renewable energy to ensure SailGP events are cleaner, greener and faster, while also creating a blueprint for other major events, as well as remote communities and disaster areas.
SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts said: “As a sport that is powered by nature, taking aggressive climate action is imperative and why we have to lead by example to reach carbon neutrality by 2025. There is no point saying we will eventually get there; it is much more urgent than that and we must find innovative solutions quickly.
“We have to ensure we are operating responsibly across all areas of our business and accelerating our sport toward a sustainable future in which all aspects of our activities have a net positive impact on society.
The key to achieving our goal is to be ‘cleaner, greener, faster’ and by partnering with innovative, like-minded companies. In doing so, we want to inspire and lead other businesses and sports, as well as our partners, suppliers and fans to realize the urgency and help them win their own race to carbon neutral.”
SailGP is also working on recycling the carbon fiber from the Season 1 F50 wingsails for use in components for the evolution of the race boats in future seasons. In addition, the league is using biofuels for temporary power generation to further reduce the carbon footprint of each event.
In the championship’s inaugural season, priorities included embedding world-leading practices across the business, eliminating single-use plastics, tackling food waste, and innovating in the field of renewable energy and biofuels.
Nearly 77,000 pieces of single-use plastic were avoided during events in the UK and France, more than 2,500 meals were donated from the U.S. races to non-profit organizations, and 59 percent of all catering was plant-based.
In June 2019, SailGP became the first league to not only sign the UN Sport for Climate Action Framework as a central organization, but to also get all of its teams to commit. SailGP was also the first event to sign the World Sailing Special Event Sustainability Charter and, having identified an urgent need to reduce the emissions of the league’s support boat fleet, began the transition to low-carbon solutions.
Ahead of the opening event of Season 2, a number of new initiatives will be in place, including using recycled carbon fiber and ocean plastics in both the SailGP and Inspire Racing medals, removing single-use and disposable products across all site areas, and removing single-use plastics from all hotel rooms used by the organization.
SailGP’s athletes, teams and employees will also work with Ausmap and Clean Up Australia on micro-plastic collection and mapping to help ensure that SailGP leaves the event sites in a better way than they were found.
Finally, through a partnership with PlanetArk, SailGP will support a tree-planting project to ensure carbon continues to be taken out of the atmosphere, mitigating extreme weather conditions caused by climate change and aiding in the regeneration of local areas after the devastation from recent bushfires in Australia.
SailGP Sustainability Director Dr. Susie Tomson said: “We are facing a global climate emergency and sport has the power to inspire change and create the momentum we need to reach zero carbon emissions, to stop the catastrophic impacts that are predicted and widely accepted.
“As a sports league driven by technology and with the power to engage and inspire a broad audience, we have set our goal to win the race to zero carbon and inspire people to go on the same journey.”
Australia, Tom Slingsby
Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
France, Billy Besson
Great Britain, Ben Ainslie
Japan, Nathan Outteridge
Spain, Jordi Xammar/ Phil Robertson*
United States, Rome Kirby
* Xammar will helm with Season 1 skipper Phil Robertson (NZL) serving in an interim capacity. Details.
Sydney, AUS (February 28-29)
San Francisco, USA (May 2-3)
New York, USA (June 12-13)
Cowes, GBR (August 14-15)
Copenhagen, DEN (September 11-12)
** A sixth event may be added to the calendar at a later date.
Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe. Rival national teams compete in identical F50 catamarans with the season culminating with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.
Season 1 – 2019 Schedule
Sydney, Australia (February 15-16)
San Francisco, USA (May 4-5)
New York, USA (June 21-22)
Cowes, UK (August 10-11)
Marseille, France (September 20-22)
SailGP Season 1 Overall Leaderboard
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby, 229
2. Japan, Nathan Outteridge, 223
3. China, Phil Robertson, 171
4. Great Britain, Dylan Fletcher, 169
5. France, Billy Besson, 164
6. United States, Rome Kirby, 163
Note: Total points based on SailGP scoring.