SailGP will integrate action on sustainability into its global series with a new prize created, contested by each of its eight teams.
The Impact League aims to make impact ‘essential to the fabric of sport’, and hopes to foster more speed in the transition to clean energy.
Throughout the series’ second season the teams will be rewarded for the positive actions they make to reduce their overall carbon footprint, as well as helping ‘accelerate inclusivity in sailing’.
Each team will compete across ten key sustainability criteria, ranging from pioneering new technologies, focusing on clean energy solutions, and removing all single-use plastics, to fostering diversity and inclusion.
Each team will be externally audited and an overall leaderboard created after each event. At the end of the season – which culminates in San Francisco in March 2022 – there will be two podiums, with the winning team crowned alongside the Season Champions and earning funding for its purpose partner, which supports and advises the team throughout the season and is visible on their livery.
The league says the move will also help to mitigate the threat that climate change poses to cities, including SailGP host venues, such as Plymouth, Saint-Tropez, and Sydney - which will face a projected sea level rise of at least half a meter, and which will put more than 800 million people at risk.
“The Impact League shows our commitment to racing for the future,” said SailGP CEO Russell Coutts.
“It will ignite the competitive nature of our world-class athletes and reward success off the water – for impactful actions – in the same way we do on it. We believe in the power of sport for good and that sport has a responsibility to lead by example to inspire others to make simple changes for a better planet. Our commitment to sustainability is much deeper than words or promises, it’s based on long-term, measurable action.”
Niclas Svenningsen, manager of Global Climate Action at UN Climate Change, UNFCCC added: “Many of the activities that bring us so much joy in our day-to-day lives are under threat from our changing climate. Sport is no exception, in-fact it is one of the areas set to be worst affected. The Impact League is an innovative and inspiring solution-orientated approach from SailGP to deliver meaningful change and re-define what winning means in sport. I would welcome other sports to follow suit and establish impact leagues of their own to help sport be that platform for real change.”
The Impact League was launched ahead of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix in Plymouth, the third event in SailGP’s second season, but has been in place internally over the first two events of the season - with New Zealand currently in first place.
To draw attention to the launch, athletes from each of the eight SailGP teams racing in the Plymouth event will campaign with ‘messages of hope’ in front of Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse, to ‘shine a light’ on what the impact could be if action is not taken quickly.