SailGP – Everything you need to know about Season 4

Photo: Simon Bruty for SailGP.

What is SailGP?

SailGP came about after the 2017 America’s Cup between Larry Ellison’s Team Oracle USA and Emirates Team New Zealand and is now in its 4th season.

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 for the America’s Cup in 2021 and set to be raced again for the next AC in Barcelona, 2024).

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.

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 have included a modular wingsail for the F50, which will allow racing in both lighter and stronger wind ranges, with the winds able to be increased or decreased in size.

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.

Australia SailGP team

The Australian SailGP team has won all seasons of the series and look set to be one of the favourites going into the new 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

Emirates GBR

The British SailGP team has taken part in all seasons of SailGP and whilst the team has remained broadly the same, ownership has passed from a SailGP-backed team, then onto INEOS Brittania (the British America’s Cup Challenger of Record) and is now sailing under the banner of Emirates GBR with their new airline headline sponsor.

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. He remains at the head of the US syndicate for the new season.

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.

Skipper, Quentin Delapierre, joined midway through Season 2 fresh from the Tokyo Olympic Games and has shown plenty of promise, often mixing it up at the very from of the fleet.

New Zealand SailGP team

A new team last year, 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 New Zealand America’s Cup world and New Zealand Olympic squads.

Spain SailGP team

Initially skippered by Australian, Phill Robertson, the Spanish team is now skippered by a rising star of Spanish sailing Diego Botin, 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

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 were a new team for the third season of the series in 2022.

Canada SailGP team

The Canada SailGP Team is an independent team and was the 10th to join SailGP when they announced their entry at the start of season 3 in 2022. 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.

Germany SailGp team

The Germany SailGP Team entered the league soon after Tom Slingsby lifted the trophy for the Aussies once again in season 3, with the newcomers led by double Olympic sailing bronze medallist Erik Heil.

The announcement of Germany joining the league has been heightened by the fact the team is backed by four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and leading businessman Thomas Riedel. They are a new team for this season 4.

How to watch SailGP

The 2023 season of SailGP will be streamed live on YouTube and will be available in most territories.

For sailors in the UK, the SailGP Season 4 events in Sydney, Auckland and Canada will be shown on ITV4 on delay to ensure the best possible viewing times for UK-based fans. All other events can be enjoyed in full either live or on-demand on ITVX, ITV’s streaming service along with coverage of SailGP’s behind the scenes series ‘Racing on the Edge’.

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 fourth season of SailGP will begin in June 2023 and will take in 12 events across the globe  and will conclude with the Grand Finale in San Francisco in July 2024.

Chicago: 16-17 June 2023
LA: 23-24 July 2023
St. Tropez: 9-10 September 2023
Taranto: 23-24 September 2023
Andalucia: 14-15 October, 2023
United Arab Emirates: 13-14 January, 2024
Sydney: 24-25 February, 2024
Auckland: 23-24 March, 2024
Bermuda: 4-5 May, 2024
Canada: 1-2 June, 2024
New York: 22-23 June, 2024
San Francisco: 13-14 July, 2024

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