Everything You Need To Know About The Australian SailGP

Everything you need to know about the Australian SailGP

Discover the thrill of intense on-water competition as we dive deep into the world of SailGP.

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF HIGH PERFORMANCE and heart-pumping action on the open seas. Founded by Oracle chairman Larry Ellison and champion yachtsman Russell Coutts, SailGP (Sail Grand Prix) aims to establish a global race series that attracts massive worldwide audiences. And with fast-foiling catamarans, spectacular locations, and a thrilling format, they’re well on their way.

SailGP is unlike any other form of on-water racing and represents both the present and future of sailing. The high-stakes championship—which has partnered with Rolex since the start of season one in 2019—is a leading light in the sport. Rolex’s involvement with yachting stretches back 65 years, and given they share an unrelenting pursuit of excellence, they were always a natural partner.

One of the most well-known sailing competitions is the America’s Cup, the oldest ongoing international sporting event. But it only occurs every three to four years and involves just two competing yachts. In other words, it’s not the most thrilling demonstration of sailing excellence, nor does it satiate the avid yachtsman’s thirst for competition. As a solution to this, SailGP was established as an annual event to allow teams representing different nations to compete regularly using the same equipment.

13 Sail Grand Prix events are held worldwide throughout the season, where teams compete against each other for the top honour. If you’re new to this growing sport, here’s a fun fact: the current champions of SailGP are our very own Australian team, led by skipper Tom Slingsby, a two-time Rolex World Sailor of the Year. In fact, the Aussies’ victory last season was their third consecutive title.

 

What makes SailGP boats so special?

One of the more unique aspects of the SailGP is that it isn’t all about high speeds and breathtaking excitement – it’s also about fairness. The F50 boats used in the competition are one-design boats maintained and operated by SailGP, so there’s no room for sneaky tricks or secret advantages. Plus, technical information is shared between teams, which includes large amounts of data collected using Oracle systems. This means the outcomes of races are determined entirely by a crew’s skill and ability.

The F50 boats use hydrofoils, or tiny wings that poke out of the bottom of the hulls, to lift the hull out of the water and reduce drag. Not only is this a crazy visual, but it allows the boats to clock staggering speeds – the current SailGP record is nearly 100 km/h, a true sight to behold.

 

 

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How does SailGP work?

The adrenaline fuelled SailGP championship is already in full swing, with season four seeing a growth in the number of teams. The competition now holds a total of ten teams from around the world battling it out across 13 thrilling events.

At each heart-pumping Grand Prix, there are six action-packed fleet races before the winner-takes-all final determines the event champion. The event leaderboard tallies the points teams have scored throughout the event, and the three highest-ranking teams at the end of fleet racing qualify for the final in a top-three showdown.

Scoring points

To break it down, the points won by teams in all six fleet races are added together. This means that if the same team won all six fleet races, they would end the weekend with 60 points.

Points are awarded to each team based on their finishing position in each of the six fleet races. The winner of the final (which comprises the top three-point scorers after the six fleet races) is declared event champion and awarded 10 points in the championship leaderboard. Second place in the final is then awarded nine points, third place is awarded a handy eight points, and so on.

The Championship Leaderboard is recalculated after each event. Seeing the three highest-ranked teams qualifying for the grand final at the end of the season. the winner of the grand final is crowned champion of the SailGP Championship.

The Australian team has already accomplished a SailGP threepeat, securing three consecutive Grand Final wins. The good news is that they’re showing no signs of slowing down in their push for a fourth-straight title. With seven rounds down and six to go, the race for the championship is on, and anything could happen. The exciting news for us down under is that the next race takes place this weekend in our hometown of Sydney.

TOM SLINGSBY, LIFTS THE SAILGP CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHY FOR THE THIRD TIME | Image Rolex

Why is SailGP so difficult to win?

Sailing in itself is incredibly difficult. You are entirely at the mercy of mother nature; no saying rings more frightful than that. Crews need to consider rough waters, high and ever-changing winds and fierce competition in the water. Making for a no-holds-barred shootout that sees teams fighting tooth and nail for speed, position, and strategy. This is no Sunday cruise.

Crews essentially have to wrangle a 2,400kg speed machine while trying to avoid the tiniest of snap mistakes, possibly capsizing these same crews into the water. It’s all about speed and positioning. Going head to head with other teams who are gunning for similar strategic lines going down straights or diving into sharp corners, collisions and on-water dramas are bound to happen.

 

This weekend’s Australian Sail Grand Prix

This weekend’s SailGP in Sydney shapes up to be a classic nail-biter. Team Australia leads the pack in the championship points overall, a feat which can be credited to a handful of second and third-place finishes and an ability to always be thereabouts in each Grand Prix so far. However, the Aussies are yet to win a Grand Prix this season. So expect the lads to push it to the max in Sydney.

The Australians may be desperate for a first-place finish, solidifying their top spot in the competition, but the New Zealand team, led by Nathan Outteridge (with the usual skipper Peter Burling out), are hot on the ‘Flying Roo’s’ tail, with the Kiwis sitting six points behind the Australian’s in the Rolex Championship.

AUSTRALIA SAILGP TEAM WINS THE MUBADALA SAILGP SEASON 3 GRAND FINAL IN SAN FRANCISCO | Image Rolex

Let’s look at the weekend weather forecast. Unlike last year’s Sydney race, which saw the event halted due to freak heavy rain and catastrophic winds. This weekend, it’s a different story. Saturday and Sunday look clear of any rain; the only change is a pick up in the wind on Saturday. With morning winds of 20 to 25 knots lowering to 15 to 20 knots in the evening. Sunday expects a slight southerly during much of the morning, which should have teams grinning.

A perfect combination of sailing conditions and a tight competition, this weekend could see another crazy on-water spectacle for the Australian SailGP.

Day 1 | SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24

Race Time | 16:00-17:30 AEDT

 

Day 2 | SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25

Race Times | 16:00-17:30 AEDT


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