SailGP teams need to make it rain

Published on July 28th, 2022

As the global sports league SailGP heads into its third event on July 30-31, the race on the water is matched by the search for funding ashore. Helen Fretter of Yachting World dives into the topic… here’s an excerpt:

SailGP is famously bank-rolled by some of the deepest pockets in the world. Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, and ranked by Bloomberg as the 11th richest person on the planet (Forbes placed him 5th in 2011), underwrote the costs of the circuit and original six teams (Australia, France, Great Britain, Japan, United States and the since-defunct China entry).

But the deal was always that in order to remain in the series, teams had to become financially independent.

A key part of this was to make the skippers also the CEO. For most teams, this means the helmsman is also the boss – a tough dual figurehead role. “Russell has made no mistake that the buck stops with us,” Team Australia skipper Tom Slingsby tells me in Chicago.

“We can employ a commercial director to try to help us find partnerships, but it’s on us at the end of the day, if we don’t fulfil our off-the-water needs, we’re the ones who pay.

“The racing is a lot of pressure, but when we get off the water, it doesn’t stop. In between events 90% of my job is trying to find sponsorship, and so I spend all my days just calling people, following leads, taking meetings, seeing if we can get some partnerships.”

The numbers required are eye-watering. In 2019, team running costs were around US$5 million per year. Coutts says: “When we started off it was ‘Can you cover the running cost?’ Now we’re charging a franchise fee. So that franchise fee for a new team is $20 million and an existing team is $25 million. And the equity is selling at those numbers. Tell me another sailing property that that’s happened with?”

Slingsby adds: “Because we’re doing more events now our costs go up as well, so we’ve got a bigger bill to pay off. We’re so fortunate to have Larry, who’s got a long term vision of this, and just because we can’t pay our bills right now, he’s not going to kick us out. But it’s only going to be so long of that good grace.” – Full report

SailGP informationPlymouth detailsSeason 3 scoreboardFacebookHow to watch

Season Three Standings (after two events)
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby – 20 points
2. Canada, Phil Robertson – 17 points
3. Great Britain, Ben Ainslie – 17 points
4. New Zealand, Peter Burling – 12 points
5. Denmark, Nicolai Sehested – 12 points
6. France, Quentin Delapierre – 9 points
7. United States, Jimmy Spithill – 9 points
8. Spain, Jordi Xammar – 8 points
9. Switzerland, Sébastien Schneiter – 4 points

2022-23 SailGP Season 3 Schedule
May 14-15, 2022 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess
June 18-19, 2022 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 30-31, 2022 – Great Britain Sail Grand Prix | Plymouth
August 18-19, 2022 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen
September 9-10, 2022 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 23-24, 2022 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
November 11-12, 2022 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas
January 14-15, 2023 – Singapore Sail Grand Prix
February 18-19, 2023 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 17-18, 2023 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 6-7, 2023 – United States Sail Grand Prix | San Francisco (Season 3 Grand Final)

Format for 2022-23 SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three races on each day, totaling six races at each event.
• The opening five fleet races involve every team.
• The final match race pits the three highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000 prize money to be split among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.

For competition documents, click here.

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 for event prize money as the season culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.

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