SailGP brought forward 24 hours because of poor Saturday forecast – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Japan caught short by SailGP scheduling change

All in agreement: Sir Russell Coutts

Japan SailGP Team will be at a disadvantage going into the opening day of sailing at the inaugural Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in the Great Sound today.

Nathan Outteridge’s team were unable to participate in yesterday’s practice races against their rivals as their wing-sailed F50 foiling catamaran underwent tests to one of its foils instead.

Any chance of finally getting some racing under their belt during the originally scheduled practice day was dashed when event organisers brought the official start of the regatta forward 24 hours.

Despite the setback, Sir Russell Coutts, the SailGP chief executive, is confident Japan can still be equal to the task.

“Nathan Outteridge has a pretty good team on board, a very experienced team,” he told The Royal Gazette.

“Some of them are trying to talk down their performance, as they always do. But it’s obviously no secret there’s five standout teams and any of the teams can win a race.

“There’s five standout teams that have five of what is regarded as the very best sailors in the world on board.”

The SailGP Season 2 opener will begin today because of tomorrow’s forecast of unfavourable light winds and conclude on Sunday as originally planned.

“When we looked at the forecast for Saturday, it was pretty obvious the wind was going to be really light and, more than that, tomorrow it looks absolutely awesome,” Coutts said.

“It looks perfect so in many ways it wasn’t a hard decision to make, particularly given that we haven’t been able to accept the usual international visitors and corporate hospitality that we would normally do for an event like this.

“People would normally fly in from overseas and be a part of our corporate hospitality programme, but of course couldn’t do that in this case. We couldn’t even do any public on-shore ticketing for the event, either, because of Covid.

“Normally, you’d have more complications if you wanted to change the schedule like we’re doing. But in this case it’s less complicated and were able to benefit from what looks like to be ideal conditions on Friday to launch our Season 2 programme.”

Coutts added: “I think from everyone’s point of view they would rather see some great racing. These broadcast images are still going to go out the world on Saturday at the allocated time because we can’t ask broadcasters to change the schedule this late. So it will still go out at the allocated time and I think it will showcase Bermuda fabulously. The fact that these boats will be ripping along in what looks to be somewhere between 12 and 20 knots of wind will be fantastic. So better to have those conditions than have them drifting around in almost no wind.

“I think, as result of that, more people will watch it and that’s good for all parties. That’s good for SailGP and it’s good for Bermuda Inc, as I would put it, because the more people that watch it, the more people would see the beautiful waters and environment that this island has to offer — and that’s a good thing for everyone.”

Coutts said all eight of SailGP’s national teams were in favour of the revision.

“They want to go racing and they want to race in good conditions, so they are all in favour of it,” he added.

“In fact, some of the teams actually came to came to us suggesting the same thing, so great minds think alike.”

As a result of the revised schedule, today’s opening day of the regatta will not be broadcast live and will instead be aired on Saturday in its original time slot.

SailGP will also not be publishing official results from the opening day’s racing until Saturday.

“We’re not hiding from the fact that we’re changing the schedule; we’re open about it,” Coutts said. “But all of our broadcast partners agree that it’s the right decision, so we won’t be publicising the race results and so forth.

“We want to deliver value for our broadcasters and we are conscious about that.

“Even our livestreaming in some of the countries that will go at the allocated broadcast times on Saturday rather than being livestreamed on Friday.”

Coutts added: “Both days will be broadcast out to 175 territories at the allocated time so Bermudians can watch the racing on TV on Saturday at 2pm, which is going to be great racing. And then on Sunday if they chose to go out on the water in their family bubbles, they can either go out on the water or watch it on TV.

“In fact, on Friday they can still come out and watch it out on the water. We’re just not going to broadcast it until Saturday because of our international broadcast agreements.

“So people are more than welcome to come and watch it on Friday in their boats, as long as they are obliged by the government regulations and stay within their own family bubble. We would love to see them out there on Friday and on Sunday.”

Editor’s note: As a result of the broadcasting restrictions, The Royal Gazette will not be able to report on Friday’s racing until Saturday afternoon.

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Published April 23, 2021 at 8:17 am (Updated April 23, 2021 at 8:17 am)

Japan caught short by SailGP scheduling change

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