Please select your home edition
Naiad 728x90px_Superyacht

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

One month until SailGP's European debut in Cowes
Global championship to be official opening feature of Cowes Week Teams made up of some of the finest athletes from Great Britain, Australia, China, France, Japan and the United States will compete in the penultimate event of the inaugural 2019 season. Posted on 14 Jul
U.S. Olympic Development Team visits U.S. SailGP
Next generation of sailors meet the sport's elite As part of their ongoing effort to inspire, support and encourage the next generation of American sailors, the United States SailGP Team and SailGP hosted US Sailing's Olympic Development Program (ODP) last week at the team base during the New York SailGP Posted on 29 Jun
U.S. SailGP scores first win at New York SailGP
Podium finish moves team one point from third overall in overall standings The United States SailGP Team brought home its first win of the season in dramatic fashion at New York SailGP in front of thousands of cheering American fans, positioned now only one point out of third place overall on the SailGP Championship Series. Posted on 23 Jun
New York SailGP day 2: Japan takes first ever win
In front of fan-lined shores, Japan beat Australia to sit atop the leaderboard by one point In front of large crowds lining the waterfront in downtown Manhattan, the Japan SailGP Team - helmed by double Olympic medalist Nathan Outteridge - beat off strong competition from Tom Slingsby's Australia SailGP Team to win its first event Posted on 23 Jun
Australia falls prey to Japan in NYC
Australia falls prey to Japan in NYC The shoreline of Manhattan's lower Hudson River was ignited with energy as fans watched Japan SailGP Team overtake Australia to claim the title of inaugural New York SailGP. Posted on 23 Jun
U.S. SailGP Team at New York SailGP day 1
A very difficult position in tough conditions With only minutes to spare before racing today, U.S. SailGP Team Shore Manager Jeff Causey replaced injured Wing Trimmer Riley Gibbs aboard the team's F50 to race the first day of New York SailGP. Posted on 22 Jun
New York SailGP Day 1: High drama on the Hudson
Great Britain SailGP Team capsize in dramatic fashion on Day 1 It was a day of high drama on the Hudson for the first day of the New York SailGP, which saw the world's fastest sail racing boats hitting high speeds in front of crowds lining the waterfront at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City. Posted on 22 Jun
U.S. SailGP Team takes aim at New York SailGP
Pre-flight checks complete and 3 straight days of practice done With pre-flight checks complete and three straight days of practice done, the United States SailGP Team looks to continue its performance gains from San Francisco and strike hard at the team's last home event of the season, New York SailGP. Posted on 21 Jun
SailGP unveils striking championship trophy
A striking trophy by world-renowned trophy maker Thomas Lyte As the world's newest sports championship approaches the halfway mark, today SailGP unveiled a striking trophy by world-renowned trophy maker Thomas Lyte that will be presented to the overall winning national team at the end of Season 1. Posted on 21 Jun
Sea of color hits the Hudson
Teams test the waters ahead of New York SailGP New Yorkers got a sneak preview of what to expect when SailGP makes its highly anticipated debut on the lower Hudson River this weekend, as all six SailGP teams today hit the racecourse together. Posted on 20 Jun
WindBot-COACH-660x82Naiad 660x82px_TouristVaikobi 2019 - Footer 1