SailGP: Cleaner and more inclusive future
Published on October 8th, 2020
While we tend to question initiatives promoting sustainability from professional teams and circuits as they impact the environment with their travel, support boats, and throw-away gear, this announcement looks to have more merit than usual:
With a sense of purpose that goes beyond entertainment, SailGP will use its international platform to accelerate change to a cleaner and more inclusive future via a newly launched initiative: Race for the Future.
As an annual, global sports championship using F50 catamarans, the league seeks to set a new standard as the first climate positive sports and entertainment property, while delivering actions and innovations that advance the global adoption of clean energy. Underpinning the plan is a diversification of the league, with the goal of immediately progressing gender and racial inclusivity.
Having postponed its second season events due to the pandemic, SailGP is building on the foundations set in year one when it launched a gender-balanced youth and community outreach program – SailGP Inspire – and set the initial goal of winning the race to zero carbon.
“We have a responsibility and a purpose that goes beyond our compelling entertainment proposition,” explains SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts. “Sustainable development is paramount to the world’s future, and through SailGP, we have a unique platform to accelerate change. Race for the Future takes us from intention to action, with a real ability to effect environmental and social transformation within and outside of the sport.
“Having a zero-carbon footprint and a diverse staff is not enough; we’ve challenged ourselves to think bigger and broader. These issues go beyond SailGP, beyond the sport and beyond the industry, and we will strongly advocate for the critical adoption of clean energy, while serving as champions of inclusivity.”
RACE FOR THE FUTURE, PART 1: ENVIRONMENTAL
Setting the New Standard
SailGP is the first climate positive sports and entertainment property, going beyond a net zero carbon footprint in all business and event operations. To be climate positive, SailGP will both drastically reduce its carbon output and invest in projects to eliminate more than the remaining emissions, ultimately creating an environmental benefit.
SailGP Sustainability Director Dr. Susie Tomson said: “We are facing a global climate emergency that requires aggressive action. We have to take decisive and ground-breaking measures, leading by example not only in sailing but across the marine and sports industries. Through technology and innovation, we will be able to reduce our impact, and will utilize our events, network, partners and fans to showcase and inspire change.”
In setting a new standard for clean event delivery, SailGP will track and verify its carbon emissions through a partnership with One Carbon World, a global resource partner of the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative.
Three of SailGP’s primary activity areas – on the water, onshore and in cities – have been identified to reduce the league’s carbon footprint. In each area, SailGP is partnering with like-minded and innovative companies to fully transition to clean energy solutions.
The remaining carbon that cannot be eliminated will be offset through One Carbon World and via the advancement of pioneering blue carbon projects, helping to maintain or restore critical carbon-sequestering shoreline ecosystems around the world. Blue carbon projects will be delivered through a partnership with Worldview International Foundation, starting with planting mangroves to contribute to the charity’s ambitious goal of planting a billion trees and mitigating 500 million tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
SailGP’s F50 race boats are one of the best showcases of clean energy in the world – they harness the power of the wind, traveling at 3-4 times its speed.
A key project to ensure both the race and support boats are powered by nature is reducing the carbon impact of the support boats – necessary to safely manage SailGP racing. Working in partnership with ePropulsion, a leading innovator of portable electric outboard boat motors, SailGP will transition 11 boats to ePropulsion motors for the start of Season 2.
SailGP has also partnered with Evoy, an innovative Norwegian company providing high-output electric propulsion systems for boats, to find a solution for the electrification of the league’s high-speed chase boats. Through a ‘pilot partnership,’ an initial boat will be upgraded to test at the first European event in Season 2 and, if successful, a plan will be implemented to transition the remainder of the boats to electric engines.
The overall goal is to have a fully electric support boat fleet by 2025 – removing the equivalent of 175 cars from the road – and helping to lead a clean energy revolution in the marine industry.
On the shore, SailGP is shifting from technologies based on fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable power by 2025. At the core of the project will be temporary event power supplied by generators using clean fuel.
Though the race boats are inherently powered by nature, they require batteries to run the electronics and store power during racing, so it is essential that once onshore, these are recharged using clean energy. To meet the goal of the race boats being fully powered by nature, a new mobile off-grid solar solution was implemented in Season 1, working in partnership with Tesla and using a Tesla Powerwall system. SailGP will work to expand the initiative to power additional elements of its technical boat operations, including the electric outboard motors that will be used by the support boat fleet.
Another key onshore project is looking at the circularity in the production of the race boats. A partnership with ELG Carbon Fibre – the world’s first carbon fiber recovery plant based in the UK – will allow waste carbon fiber from the F50s to be recycled and reintroduced into the manufacturing process for the evolution of the race boat in future seasons, ensuring a responsible and reduced carbon manufacturing process. This will be a vital step in addressing the issue of global carbon consumption and raising awareness of closed loop recycling within the marine industry and beyond.
Another new development for 2021, each of the eight national teams competing in SailGP will race with purpose. Every team will sign a Race for the Future charitable partner in their market, not only offering valuable commercial space on the boat to raise awareness for the partners’ causes, but also to secure funding for their partner through race results. The teams will work with their partners on projects that align with SailGP’s sustainability efforts.
New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO Blair Tuke said: “SailGP’s global platform is a massive opportunity to accelerate change and shine the light on key issues facing our environment. Our partner Live Ocean will help raise awareness for the protection and restoration of our oceans, which are one of our best defenses against climate change. It’s really exciting that as a league we can bring focus on the urgent need for change using Race for the Future.”
SailGP will deliver actions and innovations that accelerate the global adoption of clean energy by investing in clean technology, serving as a collaborative innovation lab and inspiring action.
SailGP will invest in clean technology solutions through both SailGP’s own research and design capabilities, and with the creation of a start-up investment fund. The aim will be to develop, test and bring to market new sustainable innovations that have broader applicability beyond the marine industry, as well as allow the league to reinvest in projects that nurture and protect the environment where SailGP races.
The first project is with E1 – the new electric powerboat series that was launched last month. SailGP is engineering and developing the initial race boat concept, which will allow the league to continue its push toward sustainable innovation and help drive forward the electrification of the marine industry.
The global championship will serve as an innovation lab and bring together partners, stakeholders, thought leaders and change makers to collaborate and facilitate advances in clean tech innovations. SailGP events will become the ultimate showcase, and through demonstrations, forums and interactive sessions, bring together innovators to shape the future of clean technology and marine sustainability.
From grassroots youth programs to consumer campaigns, SailGP will look to inspire action among its audiences, partners and fans. Using its global events, social, digital and broadcast platforms, SailGP will create clean energy advocates of the future. In addition, 10,000 young people will be educated about sustainability through SailGP Inspire in event host cities.
ROCKWOOL Group CEO Jens Birgersson said: “Sustainability is at the heart of our business at ROCKWOOL Group, and SailGP provides us a global platform to raise awareness, showcase sustainable solutions and share our optimism around today’s sustainability challenges, especially in urban environments. We believe that a more sustainable future is possible, and that, together, we can accelerate change, drive innovation, and inspire current and future generations to take action.”
Race for the Future, Part 2
The next update will be released on October 20 with details regarding female athlete inclusion in the league for Season 2, as well as robust initiatives to fully integrate diversity, equity and inclusion in every part of the business.
Australia, Tom Slingsby
Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
France, Billy Besson
Great Britain, Ben Ainslie
Japan, Nathan Outteridge
New Zealand, Peter Burling
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.
Following the postponement of Season 2 due to COVID-19, here’s what has been confirmed thus far for the restart:
San Francisco, USA (April 17-18, 2021)
New York, USA (June 4-5, 2021)
Plymouth, GBR (July 17-18)
Aarhus, DEN (August 20-21)
France (dates TBA)
Spain (dates TBA)
Australia/New Zealand (dates TBA)
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.