Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and New Zealand yachtsman Sir Russell Coutts have launched a new global league with a vision to take sailing to the masses.
SailGP comprises five World Sailing-sanctioned grand prix events featuring six national teams competing on identical wingsailed F50s – the world’s fastest, most technologically-advanced catamarans.
A high-profile launch event at Tower Bridge in London was accompanied by an immersive installation on the South Bank in the city, which sought to introduce newcomers to the SailGP concept.
The first SailGP season will start in in February 2019, bringing competitive, high-speed inshore racing to fans in Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Cowes, and Marseille, as crews compete for the championship trophy and a $1 million prize.
Teams representing Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the United States will contest the inaugural series in a new boat class, which organisers describe as a “supercharged incarnation” of the boat used for the 35th America’s Cup last year.
Speaking at the launch, Ellison said “With equally incredible technology across our one-design fleet, we expect to see thrillingly close and competitive racing amongst national teams.
“And, with a modern, consistent format, SailGP will provide a new opportunity for talented sailors who want to race for their countries.”
Fellow founder Coutts added: “SailGP distills all of the most successful, exciting and relevant elements of high-performance, professional racing, while adding the extra edge that comes with nation-versus-nation competition.
“We are aiming to be pioneers of new technologies, boat design, commercial partnerships and global audience engagement. But with every crew on the same ground-breaking F50 catamaran, this isn’t a tech arms race, rather the ultimate test to establish the best sailing team in advanced foiling catamarans.”
SailGP will operate out of headquarters in San Francisco and London. Current commercial partners include fashion brand Louis Vuitton, cloud computing specialist Oracle and car manufacturer Land Rover.
With a primary goal of growing global viewership and broadening its fanbase, SailGP’s broadcast plans focus on comprehensive live coverage complemented by centrally produced highlight programs, and cutting-edge screen applications and services.
Whisper Films has been appointed as the league’s host broadcast production partner, with Talisman Sports and Media handling global media rights distribution.