SailGP and AC, adversaries or allies?

Published on November 2nd, 2022

When it comes to world-class sailors, few are as internationally renowned as New Zealand’s Russell Coutts. Claiming the gold at the LA Olympics in 1984, helming his country’s team to victory at the America’s Cup (AC) in 1995, and again in 2000, and subsequently successfully racing with the AC Swiss and then US teams, he’s truly one of the sport’s true figureheads.

But the America’s Cup could not be re-imagined into his vision as a commercially sustainable entertainment property, so upon his team losing it in 2017, Coutts alongside team owner Larry Ellison launched the global sports league SailGP, notably using the same AC50 platform in which their team failed to defend.

When asked how SailGP is set apart from other international competitions such as the America’s Cup, Coutts replied:

“I think that the audience for the America’s Cup is the same as that of SailGP and in my opinion the two properties are really interconnected, benefiting one another. Sailing has always lacked consistency and publicity, two of the major factors when it comes to audience – SailGP has both.

“The irregularity of the AC has always made it hard to gain long term sponsorships, and every season it’s an effort to find broadcasters that are willing to show the event on TV – which is no reflection on how exciting the championship itself is.

“The continuity of SailGP, competitions almost every month this year, means that broadcasters have a guaranteed audience and sponsors have a reliable platform. In fact we have signed 10 year contracts with broadcasters and sponsors, something I have never heard of before in sailing.

“Many of the event locations have also requested to sign contracts for 4 years or even longer, because they can see the value the platform brings to the destination and its tourism industry.”

How the two properties benefit from each other will be put to the test when the race schedules for both get defined during the 2024 America’s Cup. Will they give each other broadcast space or will they fight for the same time slots? Standing by…

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 for the event championship and to earn the largest share of the $300,000 USD prize money being 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 USD 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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