Two SoCal Sailors Named to new SailGP Team

SAN DIEGO (LOG News Service) — Two Southern California sailors have been named members of the United States’ team in SailGP, the new global league that will be sailed in foiling 50-foot catamarans beginning next year.

The two, wing trimmer Riley Gibbs, 22, of Long Beach and flight controller Hans Henken, 26, of Coronado along with the names of the other crew members were announced Oct. 10 in New York.

Former America’s Cup champion Rome Kirby was named skipper and helmsman of the United States’ team in SailGP.

Kirby, 29, of Newport, Rhode Island, won the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2013 and has also sailed in the Volvo Ocean Race. He is the son of Jerry Kirby, also a former America’s Cup champion and Volvo Ocean Race veteran.

The other members of the U.S. crew are: grinder Mac Agnese, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida and grinder Dan Morris, 30, of Newport, Rhode Island.

Morris has won a World Match Racing Tour title. Agnese, Gibbs and former youth world champion Henken are all bidding to represent the United States at the 2020 Olympics.

American software billionaire Larry Ellison and New Zealander Russell Coutts, a five-time America’s Cup winner, founded SailGP, launched in mid-October. They began working on the concept of the annual global league after Oracle Team USA was routed by Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2017 America’s Cup. Kirby was a reserve with Oracle Team USA in that regatta.

The series begins 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 that will include a winner-take-all $1 million match race. Plans call for the league to eventually expand to 10 teams from 10 countries, with 10 regattas.

Ellison will initially underwrite SailGP, with plans calling for it to move to a franchise ownership model. Coutts envisions it becoming commercially sustainable.

The F50 is a redesigned and re-engineered version of the catamaran used in the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Photo: SailGP

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