Sir Russell Coutts relishing world’s best sailors locking horns in Bermuda
Sir Russell Coutts is relishing seeing rivalries resume in the opening event of SailGP Season 2 in Bermuda this month.
Just weeks after the conclusion of the 36th America’s Cup, in which Emirates Team New Zealand retained the Auld Mug in a 7-3 victory over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team in Auckland, the world’s best sailors are preparing to lock horns once again — this time on the waters of the Great Sound on April 24 and 25.
Jimmy Spithill, the Luna Rossa co-helmsman who conceded the America’s Cup match race “was like taking a knife to a gunfight”, will be targeting revenge on Peter Burling as the sailors meet again as helmsman of the United States and New Zealand teams respectively.
Meanwhile, Season 1 winners Australia, led by Tom Slingsby, will be aiming to defend their crown in a field of strong competition, which also includes Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain and Nathan Outteridge’s Japan, as well as Denmark, France and Spain.
SailGP can boast four Olympic champions among the league’s eight helms, who have between them ten medals in 14 Olympic appearances, demonstrating the undoubted pedigree that will be on show.
“There’s rarely been a time in my lifelong sailing career when I’ve been as enthusiastic as I am about our upcoming season,” Coutts, the SailGP chief executive told the Yachts and Yachting website.
“We’ll have the world’s best sailors lining up in equally matched boats for what is shaping up to be some of the sport’s most competitive racing yet.
“I can’t think of a better way for SailGP to re-emerge, and I believe our fans will be taking notice, not only of our thrilling racing, but of the new standards we’ll be setting in running our events in a sustainable and inclusive way.”
Ahead of Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, teams have already started to arrive on island and take advantage of training opportunities ahead of competitive action.
The Danish team became the first of the eight-nation fleet to hit the water and showcased a new smaller 18-metre wing-sail. The modular system is a new innovation for SailGP Season 2 that allows the wing to increase or reduce in size to enable racing to take place in a broader range of conditions.
After Bermuda, the season crosses to Europe where racing will continue in Taranto, Italy (June 5 and 6), Plymouth, England (July 17 and 18), Aarhus, Denmark (August 20 and 21), Saint-Tropez, France (September 11 and 12) and Cádiz, Spain (October 9 and 10).
The league will then finish in 2022 with races in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Grand Final in San Francisco on March 26 and 27 when the sport’s top prize of $1 million will be up for grabs.
In its first season, SailGP had a worldwide broadcast audience of 256 million across five events, and expects to see that number grow significantly with the increase to eight stops.
Broadcast partnerships for Season 2 are already in place in more than 100 territories, including Bermuda (ZFB-7), Australia (Fox Sports), Denmark (TV 2 Sport), France (Canal+ Sport), Japan (DAZN), New Zealand (Sky Sport), Spain (TVE and TV3), UK/Ireland (Sky Sports) and the US (CBS Sports).
Fans will also be able to get close to the action via the SailGP app.