SailGP newcomers Switzerland first to launch in Bermuda’s waters
Switzerland SailGP Team achieved a milestone in the build up to their debut in the global sailing league in the Great Sound at the weekend.
It was the first-time helmsman Sébastien Schneiter and crew took to the water in their wing-sailed foiling F50 catamaran as they ramp up preparations for the Season 3-opening Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess to be held on May 14 and 15.
The training exercise went off without incident in the breezy conditions with the team’s boat clocked at speeds close to 90km/h.
“We first beared away out of the harbour at 46 knots (85km/h),” Schneiter, the youngest driver of the series to date, told SailGP. “The boat was incredibly fast, like nothing I’ve ever done before.
“Sailing here on the Great Sound on any type of foiling boat, but especially for the F50, is really ideal.
“We’re trying to be as careful as we can, but we don’t want to be backing off. “I have full trust in my team and I think there’s a really good relationship between us.
“For now we’re enjoying having the Great Sound for our own, improve our manoeuvres and get ready for racing.”
Team Switzerland and Canada SailGP were announced as the newest additions to the global sailing league last September.
Multiple world champion and Bermuda Gold Cup campaigner Phil Robertson is the helmsman of Team Canada.
The two new racing syndicates are set to compete against Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States for the title and one million in prize money up for grabs.
Australia, led by Olympic, America’s Cup and multiple world champion helmsman Tom Slingsby, won the first and second instalments of the global sailing league.
Great Britain SailGP, led by multiple Bermuda Gold Cup winner Sir Ben Ainslie, are the defending Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess champions.
Ainslie and his team-mates won last year’s inaugural regatta and broke the F50 speed record (59.9mph) on the same day.
They set the record rounding the first mark in the fourth race of the six-race series of the delayed SailGP Season 2 opener to eclipse the previous mark of 92.6km/h held by Australia.
Ainslie’s team are no strangers to setting records having achieved the historic feat of breaking the sport’s 50-knot speed barrier during training ahead of the Cowes SailGP event, which they hosted in August 2019.
On that occasion their F50 was clocked travelling at a record speed of 50.22 knots (58mph).
The F50 is a one-design foiling catamaran originally designed for Oracle Team USA’s unsuccessful title defence at the 35th America’s Cup, which Bermuda hosted in the Great Sound in 2017.
SailGP was founded in 2019 by Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Olympic, America’s Cup and multiple world champion Sir Russell Coutts with the aim of establishing a commercially viable global race series with a large audience.
Teams compete in regattas around the world throughout the season.
Each SailGP event consists of two days of competitive racing.
The first day of racing consists of three fleet races, while the second day consists of two fleet races and a match race final.
The three highest-ranking teams in the event leaderboard qualify for the match race final of that event. The winner of the match race final is awarded ten points in the championship leaderboard, with second and third being awarded nine and eight points respectively.
Teams who did not qualify for the match race final are awarded points corresponding to their rankings in the event leaderboard.