WHAT IS THE SAIL GP?
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.