SAN DIEGO (LOG News Service) — New Zealander Russell Coutts is moving past the America’s Cup to help launch what he hopes is a commercially sustainable sailing league using supercharged foiling 50-foot catamarans capable of zipping across the tops of waves at 53 knots (60 mph).
Coutts and American software tycoon Larry Ellison announced their SailGP global racing league on Oct. 3 in London.
Teams from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, France, Japan and China will compete starting in 2019 in highly advanced catamarans called F50s.
The series is scheduled to begin Feb. 15-16 in Sydney, Australia, followed by regattas in San Francisco on May 4-5; New York on June 21-22; Cowes, England, on Aug. 10-11; and the finale in Marseille, France, on Sept. 20-22, will include a winner-take-all $1 million match race.
“I’m super excited about it,” Coutts, SailGP’s CEO, told The Associated Press ahead of the formal announcement. “I’ve been waiting for this for quite some time and that’s the unique thing about sailing is we don’t have anything like this that exists today and it will fill a void.”
Coutts attempted to steer the America’s Cup toward being commercially sustainable but that quest ended when Oracle Team USA was routed by New Zealand, which has decided to ditch catamarans in favor of a high-performance, foiling multihull.
The America’s Cup turned into a playground for billionaires – including Ellison – although the cash-strapped Kiwis bucked that trend when they hit on a brilliant boat design that carried them to a stunning upset last year. Fewer teams competed in last two editions of sailing’s marquee regatta due to staggering costs.
Ellison, one of the world’s richest men with a fortune estimated at nearly $63 billion, will initially cover the league’s costs before it moves to a franchise ownership model that Coutts said has already attracted interest.
SailGP took three 50-foot catamarans from the 2017 America’s Cup and redesigned and reengineered them, and built three new ones.
Oracle, Land Rover and Louis Vuitton, which once had a significant role with the America’s Cup, are founding partners of SailGP.
Photo: SailGP rendering