Sail GP Bringing F1 Mentality to Yacht Racing

Sail GP Bringing F1 Mentality to Yacht Racing
November 15 13:18 2018 Print This Article

The America’s Cup, Transpacific Yacht Race, and Newport to Bermuda Race are all steeped in tradition and the glories of sailing history. But that tradition and history is not as effective as it once was for getting people interested in sailing. The number of people learning to sail has declined as a result. But now, a new professional racing organization thinks they can change that by bringing an F1 mentality to the sport.

Sail GP is a brand-new yacht racing platform that hopes to increase the commercial viability of yacht racing worldwide. In so doing, the minds behind Sail GP also hope to raise the profile of sailing as both a leisure activity and sport everyone can enjoy. Here’s hoping they succeed.

Despite events like the America’s Cup having worldwide appeal, their reach is still limited to what seems like an exclusive class of people. After all, sailing is primarily a sport for the wealthy. That doesn’t translate very well into encouraging people to reach out to an organization like NauticEd to learn how to sail. Non-sailors need something more. Sail GP is designed to be that something.

High-Speed Racing

At the core of the Sail GP program is high-speed racing. All the racing teams will sail identical yachts with only a small number of allowed modifications. Their boats will be souped-up versions of the F50 catamarans sailed during America’s Cup competition. These particular yachts can travel at speeds of up to 50 knots.

Though 50 knots is a mere 57 mph, it’s still pretty fast for a sailing vessel. Moving along that quickly over an extended amount of time will put the vessels on the edge more often than not. Crews will have their hands full getting their boats around the racecourse while still keeping them upright.

This is part of the F1 mentality. Motor sports fans that prefer raw speed over anything else tend to flock to F1 rather than IndyCar and NASCAR. They want to see cars going as fast as they possibly can over tracks that challenge drivers to push the limits. Sail GP hopes to bring that same level of intensity and excitement to inshore yacht racing.

Better Race Presentation

Another way Sail GP is embracing the F1 mentality is in its presentation. First and foremost, all their races will be held in fan-friendly venues. They will all be inshore races held in locations like New York City, Sydney, and San Francisco. The idea is to put the races in front of those audiences that are most likely to be enthusiastic.

Sail GP officials also plan to broadcast the races with a package that includes “live coverage, graphics and highlights packages,” according to City A.M. They intend to bring the same kind of high-tech broadcasting F1 is known for to the yacht racing environment.

Finally, Sail GP intends to create a race circuit that ultimately leads to a single circuit winner at the end of the season. The eventual champion will have outperformed all the other teams to win a $1 million prize. Sail GP officials believe this sort of approach will give inshore yacht racing the kind of corporate appeal it needs to grow into a marketable and easily franchised property.

Sail GP racing teams will be learning to sail a whole new way. They will be learning to do what they do in a racing environment that appeals to consumers with an F1 mindset. If they succeed, perhaps Sail GP will encourage more people to learn to sail for their own enjoyment.

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Andrew Williams
Andrew Williams

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