Boating NZ - - Feature -

For the unini­ti­ated, Sail GP is a new se­ries of re­gat­tas on the pro­fes­sional sail­ing cir­cuit, be­gin­ning in Fe­bru­ary next year.

Read­ers may re­mem­ber that be­fore the 2017 Amer­ica’s Cup, El­li­son & Co asked all the com­peti­tors to sign an agree­ment spec­i­fy­ing the rules of the 2021 AC, re­gard­less of who won.

This would keep the yachts in the AC50 for­mat (foil­ing cats) along with many of the rules, and all would be com­mit­ted to en­ter for the 2021 event. Ev­ery­one was keen and there was a big event to an­nounce it, with one notable ab­sence – Emi­rates Team NZ.

ETNZ said “No, thank you. If we win we will be set­ting the rules for the 2021 Amer­ica’s Cup.” And so it came to pass.

El­li­son, still keen to see his idea through, has set up his own cir­cuit and is build­ing six cats (called an F50) for in­ter­na­tional teams to race. Some would ar­gue (rather con­vinc­ingly) that this is de­tract­ing from the Amer­ica’s Cup as it lures prospec­tive spon­sors and sailors away from what is sup­posed to be sail­ing’s most pres­ti­gious event.

From an op­er­a­tional stand­point, the event will work more like the Volvo Ocean Race than the Amer­ica’s Cup. The six teams will be is­sued with an iden­ti­cal boat, com­plete with wing-sail and one set of rud­ders and hy­dro­foils for light airs and an­other for windier con­di­tions.

Each team will have an iden­ti­cal set of ship­ping con­tain­ers and its own small, shore-based crew on top of the sail­ing crew. CBC will act as a shared re­source for man­ag­ing, main­tain­ing and fix­ing the pool of yachts and the event it­self as it trav­els be­tween its six rac­ing venues.

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