Please select your home edition
Edition
SW newsletters (top)

Coutts confident SailGP will become financially viable

by Tom Carey 25 Jun 00:14 PDT 25 June 2019
Australia SailGP Team races their F50. Race Day 1 Event 3 Season 1 SailGP event in New York City, New York, United States. 21 June . © Sam Greenfield for SailGP

Leading sailing and America's Cup correspondent for the The Telegraph. Tom Carey was in New York for the third round of the SailGP regatta, and spoke with Sir Russell Coutts, who created the new circuit, using a one design version of the AC50 yachts, used in the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda.

The first round was sailed in Sydney in flat water and light winds, which gave a soft opening to the series.

Is it possible to build a commercially sustainable, televised professional sailing series? Is there an appetite for such a thing? From sponsors, from television viewers, from general sports fans? New Zealand’s five-times America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts, and Oracle software gazillionaire Larry Ellison, are trying to find out, Carey told his readers in a fll page story in The Daily Telegraph.

Emirates Team New Zealand won in Bermuda two years ago. And the Kiwis decided instead to rip things up and start again, announcing that the next edition of the Cup would be fought over in foiling monohulls in Auckland in 2021.

Teams are going to need budgets northwards of £100 million just to be competitive.

Coutts suggests now that Oracle’s defeat in Bermuda might have been a blessing in disguise. It is so much easier, he says, not to mention cheaper, building a series in one-design boats in which costs can be closely controlled.

In its first season, SailGP has six teams all using identical foiling catamarans which have been brought in from the last America’s Cup cycle, with one or two modifications to make them even racier. They are now pushing 50 knots in less than half that breeze.

Budgets are around $7m (£5.5m) per team per season. But crucially, and this is what gives the series a fighting chance of establishing itself, Ellison has agreed to underwrite the costs for the first five years.

Teams will have to become self-sufficient in that time. But Coutts is confident that won’t be a problem. “If we haven’t raised sponsorship by then [2024] you would have to question whether you will ever raise it,” he said. “But I am confident with our price point because we are able to keep costs lower. We are one-design so we avoid the cost of duplication. That has a massive implication.

“At least one of our founding partners has signed a very long-term agreement. You couldn’t do that in America’s Cup. You couldn’t say for certainty you would come back to that venue or sign a long term media partnership.”

It is easy to see SailGP as a rival to the America’s Cup, trying to muscle in on its patch. Coutts, though, is clearly keen to avoid antagonising his erstwhile colleagues and rivals.

“Honestly, we aren’t trying to compare ourselves to [it]… we aren’t comparable to anything else in the sport. Sailing has simply never had a professional circuit, with national teams. But do I think this will be a more successful commercial model [than the America’s Cup]? Absolutely. It’s a no-brainer.”

For the full story from Tom Carey click here

Related Articles

Denmark SailGP announced as seventh team
SailGP has announced the addition of the Denmark SailGP Team presented by Rockwool for 2020 SailGP has announced the addition of the Denmark SailGP Team presented by Rockwool ahead of the global championship's second season. Posted on 11 Dec
Sir Ben Ainslie to helm British SailGP entry
INEOS joins as Presenting Partner Sir Ben Ainslie - the most successful Olympic sailor of all time - today joined the Great Britain SailGP Team. Beginning in the global league's second season kicking off in February 2020, Ainslie will represent Great Britain. Posted on 26 Nov
SailGP returns to Cowes for Season 2
Historic speeds were reached in Cowes in 2019 Great Britain SailGP Team will want to impress the home crowd in Cowes and win its first SailGP title, as the team looks to fend off rivals from Australia, China, France, Japan and the USA, plus the possibility of an additional team during Season 2. Posted on 14 Nov
Rolex presents the first season for SailGP
Just released is this video by Rolex reviewing the SailGP first season. Rolex is a supporting partner of the SailGP series, five-member crews representing six countries race identical F50 foiling catamarans in the world's most famous harbours. Just released is this video by Rolex reviewing the SailGP first season. Posted on 10 Nov
Tom Slingsby helps launch SailGP Inspire Racing
Returning to his home sailing club in New South Wales Olympic gold medalist and SailGP Season 1 champion Tom Slingsby returned to his home sailing club in New South Wales to help launch an innovative new program that aims to create a pathway into high-performance sail racing. Posted on 8 Nov
U.S. SailGP Team begins rebuilding for Season 2
Kirby leads team to Washington D.C., for Intensive 'Team of Teams' Training The United States SailGP Team jump-started its preparations for Season 2 success last month, embarking on a multi-day intensive leadership development course with McChrystal Group, led by General (Ret.) Stanley McChrystal. Posted on 7 Nov
Sydney SailGP tickets on sale now
Heart-pumping global championship returns to Sydney Harbour in 2020 The world's fastest and most exhilarating sail racing championship returns to Sydney Harbour next year, with Sydney SailGP tickets now on sale to watch Tom Slingsby and the Australian team begin their title defence in February 2020. Posted on 1 Nov
Great Britain SailGP Team announce new team member
Matthew Barber joins the highly decorated crew as a grinder Having competed across a variety of yacht racing circuits - including the GC32, TP52, Maxi72 and RC44 - Barber's experience compliments the close-knit team's Olympic backgrounds. Posted on 31 Oct
F50 crowned World Sailing's Boat of the Year
Cutting-edge foiling catamaran honored after breaking speed records in debut season As SailGP prepares to kick off its second season in 2020, the global championship continues to be recognized for its successful debut. Today, the F50 catamaran - the fastest sail race boat in the world - was honored Posted on 30 Oct
SailGP to return to San Francisco, New York
Two iconic U.S. shorelines in 2020 for Season 2 Two marquee U.S. grand prix events featuring world's fastest sail racing to take place in six-week span following 2020 season opener in Sydney. Posted on 29 Oct
MBW newsletters (top)