Business sailing in San Francisco – Sailing



SailGP, final in San Francisco

Sydney, Dubai, Bermuda, Chicago, Saint-Tropez, Cadiz, Aarhus, Plymouth, San Francisco … Welcome to the planet SailGP, a business sailing circuit created and funded by billionaire Larry Ellison in 2019. This American enthusiast sailing, double winner of The America’s Cup, and co-founder of the firm Oracle Corporation, has a fortune estimated by Forbes at 102.4 billion dollars in 2021. Which is why he is the ninth richest individual in the world.

Enough to supply his passion for sailing and reach an international circuit, the keys he entrusted to New Zealander Russell Coutts. The mission of the Kiwi, a five -time Cup winner, is to “create value” around this circuit to attract new partners. It is difficult to know the annual budget of SailGP but it is estimated at 80 to 100 million euros.

Seven million dollars a year

For two years, the teams were therefore more funded by the American billionaire: “Each team receives seven million dollars for the season”, explains Bruno Dubois, manager of the France SailGP Team who knows this, even if guaranteed Ellison’s financing for the first five years, this financial windfall will not fall forever.

“We have to perform to stay on the circuit. And bring sponsorship, otherwise … But I’m not worried because we’ve found enough to supply a good portion of the team in 2023 and until 2025 ”, explained the French boss who had to report to Russell Coutts per month. .

Moreover, the eight teams must all go through the New Zealander’s office. Here, Coutts decides on almost everything, right down to adjusting the sails according to the weather. “SailGP is a rising start-up,” they said.

In supporting the numbers, the tricolor manager prefers to smile when he compares the media fallout from SailGP and the Franco-French race like the Vendée Globe: “Some people consider America’s Cup the World Cup, so SailGP the Champions League ”.

Not fake. There are very high levels of sailors, Olympic medalists and/or America’s Cup winners, such as Ben Ainslie, Peter Burling, Jimmy Spithill, etc. “It’s a dream to sail against these people,” admits Quentin Delapierre from Vannes, who is also involved in the second Olympic preparations at Nacra 17, and who replaces Billy Besson, who landed in October.

“The boat you dream of when you’re racing”

Surrounded by a crew mostly made up of Bretons (1), Delapierre had only three Grands Prix behind him but he had already found his place in the F50, an overpowered catamaran in which sailors wore helmets, reinforced vests, knives and oxygen cartridges provided in case of capsize: “This is the latest boat, the one you dream of when you race. It’s also annoying. ”If he respects his opponents enough, Morbihannais has a project to put them all on his backboard someday:“ The goal is to win SailGP ”.

In all waters, the eight teams (United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Denmark, Great Britain, Spain and France) had the same engine, the same rigid wings, the same foil. The New Zealand-built F50 is an upgraded version of the 2017 America’s Cup AC50s in Bermuda. A monster capable of regularly teasing 50 knots. In 2023, the new version promises a top speed of nearly 60 knots thanks to foils that are no longer L-shaped but T-shaped. That is, racing at over 100 km/h!

“Here, everything is shared, especially the performance. Every team knows in real time what is happening to the other boats, it gives real fairness to the sport, ”explained Thierry Douillard, coach of the France team.

Deductibles of $ 25 million

Prior to this season, women were included, bringing the number of sailors on board to six. Morlaisian Amélie Riou found her place there, little by little: “It’s crazy to ride on machines like this. This boat is the best. This circuit also. Unlike Olympism, here, sailors are well paid, between 500 and 1,000 euros per day depending on position.

With ten episodes scheduled for next season, the SailGP circuit continues to grow as evidence of the arrival of two new teams, Switzerland and Canada in 2023. Two franchises have paid 25 million dollars to secure their place on the circuit .

Season n ° 3 will see 90 containers of ten teams on the SailGP circuit visiting twelve cities: with, again, a good jackpot to be won in the final, i.e., after three hours of racing between three buoys, in a very limited space, all under the eye of the cameras of television channels that paid for broadcasting rights, such as Canal + Sport in France.

This weekend under the California sun, in front of 12,000 people — 10,000 on land and 2,000 on water — after paying a ticket for between 53 and 170 dollars, the winner pocketed a clean slate of one million dollars.

Away from the check for 200,000 euros given to the winner of the last Vendée Globe, after 80 days at sea alone.

(1) Amélie Riou (Morlaix), Olivier Herlédant (Douarnenez), Matthieu Vandame and François Morvan (Vannes).

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