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SailGP Brings International Sailboat Racing to the Waters of NYC

International racing has a long history in New York City dating back 1908 where the New York to Paris Auto Race set off with teams from France, Italy, Germany and the United States. With the fourth annual FIA all-electric formula race car series set to take place on the grounds of the Brooklyn waterfront in mid-July, the third weekend of June belonged to the international wind-powered racing boats of SailGP, described as “a completely new global sports series”.

Above: Left, from the Library of Congress Bain Collection. Center, courtesy SailGP. Right, Warren Rosenberg

Established in 2018, SailGP “was created to engage and excite global sports fans year-round in a supercharged, fast-paced version of sailing aimed at increasing its mainstream popularity, introducing the next generation to the sport and creating a career path for extraordinary athletes.” The SailGP series kicked off its inaugural year fully funded by Oracle co-founder and CEO, Larry Ellison, with the goal of becoming a self-sustaining, commercially-viable international race series.

Above: SailGP competitors in New York Harbor with the Verazzano Bridge in the background. Photo Courtesy SailGP

Teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the USA are competing for a trophy and $1 million in prize money. Each race in the series takes place over two days and consists of five preliminary races scored by points followed by the match final race between the top two points winning teams to determine the event winner. This weekend, in NYC, team Australia took first place in race 1 followed by wins in race 2, 3 and 4 by Japan and team USA taking first place in race 5. In the 2019 New York SailGP match final race, Japan defeated Australia. The 2019 New York SailGP ended with Japan victorious. The final results are:

  1. Japan 49 points

  2. Australia 45 points

  3. USA 37 points

  4. China 33 points

  5. France 32 points

  6. Great Britain 27 points

The eco-friendly wind-powered sailboats are highly regulated so that each team uses the same equipment. They are capable of reaching speeds of 60 mph by skimming just above the surface of the waves on hydrofoils.

Above. Sixth place finishers from Great Britain struggle to control their boat. Photo courtesy SailGP

The New York City race event was the third stop on a five-city circuit which began in Sydney, Australia, in February and concludes in Marseille, France, in September. The sailors are all accomplished athletes and include Olympic medalists and America’s Cup sailing champions.

Each boat operates with a crew of five holding down such positions as Helm (1), Flight Controller (1), Wing Trimmer (1) and Grinder (2). Only the French team includes a female member, Marie Riou, the Flight Controller who is a four-time Nacra 17 World Champion. Team USA includes Romme Kirby, America’s Cup Winner at the Helm, Riley Gibbs, Silver Medalist at the Youth World Championship as Grindr, Taylor Canfield As Flight Controller, and Dan Morris and Mac Agnese as Grinders. Hans Henken is the reserve Flight Controller and Tom Burnham coaches the team and well as the America’s Cup team. Rome Kirby says that, ““I think we have an incredible team dynamic and are looking forward to mixing it up against some of the world’s best sailors. Until now, we’ve never had a chance to go toe-to-toe over a full season of competition. Plus, there’s that extra edge you get representing the USA against other national teams.”

Race 1 Sydney Australia February 15-16

Race 2 San Francisco May 4-5

Race 3 New York City June 21-22

Race 4 Cowes, England August 10-22

Race 5 Marseille, France September 21-23

Look for full coverage of the SailGP and NYC ePrix in an upcoming issue of MetroSports Magazine

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