SailGP: The business of pro boating

Published on April 19th, 2021

The organizers of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess estimate the sailing spectacle showcasing eight teams in the cutting edge F50 will generate as much as $10 million for the island’s economy despite the loss of revenue owing to COVID-19 restrictions.

SailGP, whose auspices the event falls under, scrapped plans to have as many as 650 spectators view the event live at its racing facility at Cross Island as well as on ticketed charter boats.

However, Sir Russell Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, said he expects the event (on April 24-25) will still generate anywhere from $5 million to $10 million for the local economy in spite of these setbacks.

“Obviously that’s [estimate] been modified because of the restrictions that we’re under and people unable to travel to the island to watch it,” he told The Royal Gazette. “But regardless of that, I know that the economic impact will certainly be five to ten million dollars.

“Typically our events exceed $20 million and I think they average around $23 million in economic return. But clearly we’re not going to have that sort of return in this COVID rich environment, so let’s call it $5 million to $10 million.”

The inaugural event will launch the start of SailGP Season 2, which was delayed because of the pandemic. It will be broadcast live in the United States and Canada on CBS Sports and in Britain on Sky Sports, with added exposure in 175 countries.

“I think there would be great images coming from Bermuda showcasing racing,” Coutts added. “Everyone knows that this is a fantastic venue and just the images going out to various other markets effectively showing that Bermuda is open, I think, is a great message to get out there as well.

“Clearly all the best sailors are here and the sailing world and sports fans are really switched on. There’s a lot of interest in it.”

While organizers have scrapped plans for ticketed charter boats for spectators, Coutts, a seven-time King Edward VII Gold Cup winner, still hopes to see spectators out on the racecourse.

“I’m hoping that we will be to have at least on-the-water spectators, even if there is limitations in the boat and so forth,” he said. “It will still be pretty easily viewed from the shore, but no doubt the Government will have rules around how many people can congregate in one area.”

Source: The Royal Gazette

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SailGP Season 2 Schedule*
April 24-25, 2021 – Bermuda Grand Prix
June 5-6, 2021 – Italy Grand Prix – Taranto
July 17-18, 2021 – Great Britain Grand Prix – Plymouth
August 20-21, 2021 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Grand Prix – Aarhus
September 11-12, 2021 – France Grand Prix – Saint-Tropez
October 9-10, 2021 – Spain Grand Prix – Andalusia
January 29-30, 2022 – New Zealand Grand Prix – Christchurch
March 26-27, 2022 – United States Grand Prix – San Francisco (Season 2 Grand Final)
*Subject to change

2021-22 Teams
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, Jimmy Spithill
*Season 1 skipper Phil Robertson (NZL) will helm in an interim capacity while Jordi Xammar prepares for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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.

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