SailGP, can I have your autograph?

Published on August 26th, 2020

Remember the sailing scene in the 1999 movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, with actor Pierce Brosnan ripping along in the Formula 40 catamarans while sailing studs like Randy Smyth, Keith Notary, and Tommy Gonzalez kept him from hurting himself?

Now it’s the SailGP F50s that are getting their Screen Actors Guild card.

Rome Kirby and Tom Slingsby, skippers for the USA and Australia teams of this global sports league, spent a week at the helm of the F50s – one white and one blue – in the Solent for the movie Tenet, a new sci-fi spy thriller to debut on August 26.

Following Cowes SailGP in August 2019, two F50s – the Japan and U.S. boats – were rebranded exclusively for the Hollywood movie with SailGP’s crew taking part in the filming, although it will be a struggle to spot them thanks to the magic of cinematography.

“When news reached us that SailGP would be featured in a Hollywood movie, everyone wanted to be involved,” said Slingsby. “It was one of those things you hear and think that it would be cool but would never happen. It was amazing to get a little insight into Hollywood and it was a fun project to be part of. I can’t wait to see the movie.

“But, the best thing for me is that people will see for the first time the F50s in full flight on the big screen and that will bring a completely new audience to SailGP. Hopefully it will change people’s perception of the sport and they will come and see us in real life – the real racing is as good as any Hollywood movie.”

Based out of Southampton docks, the filming involved multiple helicopters, chase boats, hi-tech camera boats, IMAX cameras, production staff and a team of hair and make-up, which Kirby got to experience first-hand.

“In the script, the white boat was helmed by the character played by (actress) Elizabeth Debicki,” explained Kirby. “In the real world, very few people are equipped to handle an F50 and while Debicki already had a stunt double – who had more than a passing resemblance to the Australian actress – even in a blonde wig, I didn’t really cut it as Hollywood leading lady.

“It was amazing to be a part of. We shot scene after scene, scenario after scenario trying to get as close to each other as possible. We didn’t know how the pieces fit together or where it would feature in the movie, but I think it will be a pretty prominent scene.”

See the F50s at 2:15 in the official Tenet movie trailer: click here

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