Future of SailGP according to Coutts

Published on October 8th, 2022

When Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison wrestled away the America’s Cup in 2010, they set out on a mission to create a commercially sustainable event. They put forth their product in 2013 and 2017, showcasing extreme sailing to attract a broader audience.

The road they paved has continued on, with the AC75 used in 2021 raising the bar in high performance, but the heightened cost has reduced hope for sufficient resources to cover a campaign budget. Only billionaires need apply.

But the dynamic duo remain undeterred, and now without the restrictions of the America’s Cup, have created their annual SailGP global sports league. They already knew fleet racing was more visual, and with faster speed and a television friendly format, they are fully committed to attain their Holy Grail.

With Season 3 in the second half of its 33-event schedule, SailGP CEO Coutts shares his views with Fox Sports:

About the America’s Cup:
“It was like watching paint dry, it was just slow. Very technical, hard to understand.”

Expanding SailGP:
“I think Formula One’s at 22 events and Moto GP around 20, if you can get to 20-plus events a year, then you’re roughly once every two weeks, and even if the fans don’t know where the next event is, they know every second weekend there’s a SailGP event on and then they look for it, so that’s the stage that we want to get to. We quickly want to grow to 20-events plus. We have a plan to have two leagues with some common events at one point in one of our upcoming seasons.”

Promoting women:
“I think the first step to really changing the sport would be to have a female driver winning SailGP races. If we just looked at step one. If the ultimate goal is gender equality, and you have a female driver that was coming out and winning events and winning races, then that would become aspirational for all the young female sailors in the world.”

Controlling SailGP’s F50 catamaran:
“We could easily make them a lot easier to sail by automating the flight control and doing a whole range of things the fact that they are super difficult tests for the best sailors in the world I think adds to the sporting spectacle. You make a mistake, there’s going to be consequences. It’s one thing to sail these boats, even race a boat around the course on your own, but you put the other boats in the mix, and the turbulence in the water, and just the fact that the other boats are right alongside you doing those speeds, it’s a totally different consideration.”

SailGP informationYouTubeHow to watch

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 19-20, 2022 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen
September 10-11, 2022 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 24-25, 2022 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
November 12-13, 2022 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas
January 13-14, 2023 – Singapore Sail Grand Prix
February 17-18, 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 qualifying races each day for all nine teams.*
• The top three teams from qualifying advance to a final race 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.
* Qualifying schedule increased from five to six races at France SailGP.

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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