Ben Ainslie retires from SailGP league

Published on January 4th, 2024

Forty-six year old Ben Ainslie (GBR), considered the most successful sailor in Olympic history, is stepping away from the helm in the SailGP sports league. After a dust-up with the Kiwi team in October, and recently voted the biggest trash talker by his competitors, Ainslie hands over the wheel of the Emirates GBR team to double Olympic Gold medalist and America’s Cup teammate Giles Scott.

“It’s probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my sporting career,” shared Ainslie. “Like any big decision, there’s plenty that goes into it and a lot of factors at play.

“As the CEO of both Emirates GBR and the INEOS Britannia America’s Cup Team, and most importantly a husband and father, at some point you’ve got to realize that you can’t do everything.

“I’m coming to that point where it’s time to let the next generation come through and have their opportunity. We’ve got a huge talent in Giles Scott, he’s one of the best in the sport and he will suit this style of racing perfectly. He’s an incredible sailor, one of the best I’ve ever raced with, but he’s also a very mature, level-headed person and that’s why I think he will do a fantastic job in SailGP.”

Ainslie and Scott have a long history, initially competing against each other to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Scott pushed hard and it was an extremely close competition, but Ainslie was successful in selection and went on to secure his fourth Gold medal before retiring from Olympic sailing. The torch was then passed to Scott, who competed at the Rio 2016 Games, winning Gold in the Finn class, before achieving the double at Tokyo 2020.

The British team stands fourth overall in Season Four, and while they’ve won two of the six events, they’ve also been below the fold in half of them. Scott has not been on the SailGP crew but shares helming duties with Ainslie on their America’s Cup boat.

“I’ve got some catching up to do, but the Emirates GBR Team is a great squad, everybody involved is hugely experienced and top quality sailors,” noted Scott. “I’ve got to step up to the mark and do the best job I can to fill those big old boots that Ben’s left behind.”

Scott joins the Emirates GBR SailGP Team as driver, alongside Hannah Mills OBE as Strategist, Iain Jensen as Wing Trimmer, Luke Parkinson as Flight Controller, Matt Gotrel MBE, Neil Hunter, and Nick Hutton as Grinders and Hannah Diamond as Reserve Sailor.

Ainslie will maintain  his role as Emirates GBR CEO where he will manage the overall performance of the team both on and off the water. Strategist Hannah Mills OBE will continue her development behind the wheel of the F50, helping towards her goal of becoming the first female driver of a SailGP team.

This development continues prior to the Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix (Jan. 13-14), where the British team has organized a Women’s Pathway training day on its F50. Mills will helm the session which will be attended by female athletes from other SailGP teams to enable them to gain experience and develop in different crew roles.

“Hannah is an incredible talent and it’s been really impressive to see how she’s got to grips with these boats,” said Ainslie. “We fully support her in her goal to become the first female driver in SailGP and will continue to provide her more training time on the water, starting in Abu Dhabi, and I don’t think it will be long until we see her racing an F50.”

Ainslie first took on the role as driver for Emirates GBR ahead of Season 2 in 2019 and in October 2021 took majority ownership of the Great Britain team in a first for the league.

SailGP informationYouTubeHow to watch

Season Standings (after six of 13 events; results and total points)
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby/Jimmy Spithill), 2-3-2-2-3-2; 52 points
2. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 4-2-4-7-2-6; 41
3. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 1-7-8-DNC/6-4-1; 40
4. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 7-6-1-1-8-5; 38
5. United States (Jimmy Spithill/Taylor Canfield), 9-5-5-3-1-8; 35
6. Spain (Diego Botin), 5-1-3-6-6-10; 33
7. Canada (Phil Robertson), 3-4-10-5-5-3; 32
8. France (Quintin Delapierre), 6-8-6-4-7-4; 31
9. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 8-9-9-9-7; 15
10. Germany (Erik Heil), 10-10-7-8-9-10-9; 10

• Canada SailGP Team: Docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
• Germany SailGP Team: Docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix
• New Zealand SailGP Team: Granted six event points for Italy Sail Grand Prix as unable to compete due to wing damage suffered at France Sail Grand Prix.

Season 4 – 2023
June 16-17 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Los Angeles
September 9-10 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 23-24 – Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto
October 14-15 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía- Cádiz
December 9-10 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix | Dubai*

Season 4 – 2024
January 13-14 – Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix | Abu Dhabi
February 24-25 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Auckland
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 4-5 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
June 1-2 – Canada Sail Grand Prix | Halifax
June 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | New York
July 13-14 – SailGP Season 4 Grand Final | San Francisco
* Added October 3, 2023

Format for Season 4:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• Up to seven qualifying fleet races of approximately 15 minutes may be scheduled for each regatta.
• The top three teams from qualifying advance to a final race to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000.00 USD event prize money purse (increases to $400k after Abu Dhabi) that’s divided among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race for the top three teams in the season standing with the winner claiming the $2 million USD prize.
• The top team on points ahead of the three-boat Championship Final will be awarded $350,000.00.

For competition documents, click here.

Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing among national teams in some of the iconic harbors around the globe.

Source: SailGP

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