SailGP – Everything you need to know about the 2022 season

USA SailGP Team helmed by Jimmy Spithill and Spain SailGP Team co-helmed by Florian Trittel and Jordi Xammar collide on Race Day 2 of San Francisco SailGP, Season 2 in San Francisco, USA. 27th March 2022. Photo: Simon Bruty for SailGP.

When Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts launched SailGP back in 2018, the plan was that, by 2022, the series would be heading into its fourth consecutive season and starting to build some serious momentum.

As with the rest of the sporting world, however, COVID-19 has caused disruption, stretching out the second season over several years.

The first season of SailGP racing showed the potential of the ambitious circuit, with spectacular racing at events like Cowes and Marseilles over the summer of 2019. But the second season barely got off the ground with just a single event completed – at Sydney in January 2020 – before the global pandemic and consequent lockdown forced organisers and teams to hit the pause button.

But the season did manage to continue throughout 2021 and saw some fascinating battles and thrilling events as the regattas took place across the globe – even if there were still a great many COVID logistics to overcome.

Photo: David Gray for SailGP

What is SailGP?

SailGP came about after the 2017 America’s Cup between Ellison’s Team Oracle USA and Emirates Team New Zealand.

During the Bermuda America’s Cup there had been much discussion about creating an America’s Cup World Series in foiling catamarans, a discussion led by Ellison and supported by most of the Challengers.

But when Emirates Team New Zealand delivered their shock win in 2017, they instead announced a return to monohulls for Cup racing (the spectacular AC75s raced in Auckland this year).

Ellison, boss of technology giant Oracle, and Russell Coutts, a five-times America’s Cup winner, decided to launch a brand new multi-stage global circuit in foiling catamarans: Sail GP.

Ellison is understood to have wholly funded the circuit for the first three years. The intention was that, as the circuit grew and gained more television exposure, other commercial backers would come onboard.

The new racing circuit was announced with much fanfare and a $1m prize purse for each season.

The series rules also featured tight nationality rules – at the time tighter than for the America’s Cup itself – albeit with exemptions for countries without a strong history in the sport, to draw emerging sailing nations into the series.

Racing features teams racing under their national flag, in foiling catamarans, with all the action televised using the software created to broadcast the 2013 and 2017 America’s Cups.

Photo: Bob Martin for SailGP

Each SailGP event runs across two days and there are three races on each day, totalling six races at each event.

The opening five fleet races involve every team while the final match race pits the two highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion.

The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.

What boats does SailGP use?

SailGP is raced in equally matched foiling, wing sailed, 50ft catamarans, known as the SailGP F50, which are based on the AC50 design that was used for the 2017 America’s Cup

Ellison and Coutts, sensing an opportunity to turn the AC50s into a one design class, modified many of the existing boats used by the different Cup teams, built some new hulls and rigs, and created a new, one design class.

Photo: Sam Greenfield for SailGP

Although the boats are equally matched, the intention is to upgrade the whole fleet on a continuous development cycle, so the design can remain at the forefront of the latest foiling developments without creating an expensive arms race for the latest tech.

New developments include a modular wingsail for the F50, which will allow racing in both lighter and stronger wind ranges.

Who are the teams in SailGP?

SailGP teams compete under a national flag and the series operates a nationality rule for the sailors in each team. ‘Developed’ sailing nations (nations with a strong history in the sport) are required to sail the boat with the majority of crew being nationals of the team’s country.

In essence an entry for a ‘developed’ sailing country will need to fill all but one crew spot with athletes from that country (the boats are usually sailed with five crew, but may sometimes be sailed with four or even three in extremely light conditions).

For other countries, the restrictions are much loser with only two nationals being required on the boat if its being sailed by all five crew and only one needed if four or three crew are onboard.

Australia SailGP team

The Australian SailGP team won the first and second seasons of the series and look set to be one of the favourites going into the second season.

They have a tight unit of sailors, and are headed up by Laser Gold Medallist, Moth World Champion and America’s Cup racer, Tom Slingsby.

Photo: Eloi Stichelbaut for SailGP

Great Britain SailGP team

A British SailGP team did take part in the opening season of SailGP, but the entry has since been taken over by the British America’s Cup team, INEOS Team UK.

The team is led by the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, Sir Ben Ainslie.

United States SailGP team

One of the most successful America’s Cup skippers of all time, Jimmy Spithill, stepped up to lead the US team at the start of season 2 fresh from helming Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to the America’s Cup finals.

Denmark SailGP team

The Danish SailGP team is led by multi-time round the world ocean racer Nicolai Sehested.

Photo: Craig Greenhill for SailGP

France SailGP team

The French have long been well known for their multihull prowess so it is hardly surprising they would have a team in this high performance multihull series. To date, however, the French team have not managed to fight it out at the very front of the fleet. New skipper Quentin Delapierre joined midway through Season 2 fresh from the Tokyo Olympic Games and has shown promise in the later half of the season.

Japan SailGP team

Headed up by Australian 49er Gold Medallist, Moth World Champion and America’s Cup skipper, Nathan Outteridge, the Japanese team has a slightly less strict nationality rule, due to the position as a developing sailing nation.

The team impressed in season one to finish the series in 2nd overall, and were the only team to consistently challenge Slingsby’s Team Australia for wins. They continued this form into the second season and should be a threat at the front in the third too.

New Zealand SailGP team

A new team for the second season of SailGP, New Zealand is skippered by the hottest name in sailing right now, 49er Olympic gold medallist and reigning America’s Cup winner Peter Burling.

Also onboard is Burling’s long time sailing partner, Blair Tuke and a stack of talent from the ENTZ and New Zealand Olympic squads.

Spain SailGP team

Initially skippered by Australian, Phill Robertson, the Spanish team is not skippered by a rising star of Spanish sailing Jordi Xammar, the Spanish team is the youngest to compete in SailGP’s cutting-edge sail racing championship, and made its debut in February 2020.

Switzerland SailGP team

The newly formed Switzerland SailGP Team is the next generation of SailGP talent, on a journey that unites ambition, talent and passion. Driver Sébastien Schneiter will be the youngest driver the series has had. They are a new team for this third season of the series.

Canada SailGP team

The Canada SailGP Team is an independent team and the 10th to join SailGP and are new for season three of the series. The Canada SailGP Team and its partners are committed to increasing sailing’s popularity in Canada and establishing a pathway for extraordinary athletes in the sport.

How to watch SailGP

The 2022 season of SailGP will be streamed live on YouTube and will be available in most territories.

For sailors in the UK, in addition to the live YouTube SailGP racing, it will be available on Sky Sports with both live racing and a highlights package.

For those in the USA, in addition to live YouTube SailGP racing, CBS will be offering a mix of live broadcasting and highlights packages.

Photo: Matt Knighton for SailGP

There will also be a delayed full race replay put out on the SailGP Facebook page.

A SailGP app is available as a companion app to the broadcaster coverage. The app provides: live data and video feeds; video and race stats side by side; the option to change viewing angle and zoom in on the action;  switch teams, and select data feeds.

The app will offer delayed coverage and full race replay 48 hours after race completion.

When is SailGP?

The third season of SailGP will begin in May 2022 and will take in 10-11 events across the globe (one event not included in the list below is still TBA) and will conclude with the Grand Finale in San Francisco in May 2023.

SailGP Bermuda: 14-15 May 2022
SailGP USA: Chicago – 18-19 June 2022
SailGP Great Britain: Plymouth – 30-31 June 2022
SailGP Denmark: Copenhagen – 19-20 August 2022
SailGP France: Saint-Tropez – 10-11 September 2022
SailGP Spain: Andalucia – 24-25 September 2022
SailGP Dubai: 12-13 November 2022
SailGP Singapore: 14-15 January 2023
SailGP New Zealand: – Christchurch 18-19 March 2023
SailGP Final USA: – San Francisco 6-7 May 2023

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