Vortex Escaping

Escaping the gurgler that is the America’s Cup with its relentless pull into a black hole of politics, back-biting, self-interest and money (all fabulous), is a blessed relief. Look up from the quagmire and all around our wonderful, televisual, photogenic sport, there are good things happening. Good people are getting out there, getting wet, getting racing and enjoying themselves away from the encompassing and raging pandemic gloom. The core of the apple is juicy and sweet. We are lucky to have found sailing.


©Craig Greenhill for SailGP

And as November comes to a close, December doesn’t relent and my eye is drawn to Sydney and the SailGP round that literally has me on the edge of my seat. This year has been SailGP’s year. The Cup in March in Auckland was out of this world but the crashing full-stop that the format elicits means the enthusiasm drains quickly away – the passion whirls into the gurgler replaced by delay, confusion and politics. It’s a shame really.

But arriving bang on cue and seeping quickly into our conscious is the Formula 1 of yachting that has claimed the pinnacle like Hilary and Tenzing on Everest. The SailGP flag has been planted on the peak of global grand prix yachting and you get a strong sense that it’s just the start.

Russell Coutts must wake up every morning wondering quite how things got so good. It was a risk and it’s been hard in Covid times to get the series away but with almost statesmanlike determination, SailGP has prospered and thundered ahead from Bermuda to Plymouth, from Denmark to St Tropez, from Italy to Spain and now ahead of the $1m finale in San Francisco its the turn of that made-for-television amphitheatre, Sydney, to provide us all with Christmas cheer.


©Craig Greenhill for SailGP

The sailors have been brilliant. The racing has been top drawer. The boats are on the zeitgeist and the ambition has been monumental. Female athletes changed everything. The Inspire pathway programme has been enlightening and the Impact League has been spot on.

Let’s be clear here, it isn’t stopping there. The platform that’s been created and the sponsors that are lining up to take an ever bigger share plus the buy-outs of teams by the likes of Ben Ainslie are serious markers of where this is going. Larry Ellison is, by all accounts, super-happy with what he’s seeing and the announcement of Series 3 is going to show a scaling up of the ambition to almost unfathomable heights.


©Bob Martin for SailGP

Larry Ellison is changing the order at the top of our sport. He’s an innovator. He’s a visionary and he doesn’t do things half-baked. What’s coming will blow our collective socks off and after a year like they’ve just had, you get a strong sense that it’s just the beginning.

SailGP is set to outstrip everyone and everything before it and the crucial thing is that it’s capturing an audience that the America’s Cup can only dream of. I’ve said it before but if you’re a marketing manager at a big corporate that wants a green-ticket, youthful, grand-prix exposure you’re desperate to get involved here. You’re running to SailGP. Leave the Cup to the billionaires to blow their cash for little to no return whilst you get bang for your buck in the most thrilling fashion on a monthly basis. No brainer.

And let’s look at Sydney – wow what a regatta we have in store. Slingers leading the pack just one point ahead of the Pitbull who’s tied with Team New Zealand’s newest recruit in the Wind Whisperer whilst Big Ben is just four points adrift. It’s all to play for and the sub text is enthralling.

Will Tom punch our ticket and take us on a roller-coaster? Will Jimmy be smelling the million bucks and pull a regatta out from the Gods? Does a rejuvenated and confident Nathan determine to impress the Kiwi hierarchy and leg away? Or does Ben continue his love affair with Sydney, the scene of his most famous wins, and stick one over on the best in the world.


©Eloi Stichelbaut for SailGP

I can’t call it. You can’t call it. No-one can call it…and don’t forget we’ve got Pete & Blair in there too absolutely determined to lay down a season-ending marker and remind the world of their utter genius. It’s tantalising. It’s electric. You can’t take your eyes off this regatta.

Blink and you’ll miss it. It’s better than Formula 1 by a country mile. It’s better than anything we’ve seen in this fabulous year of yachting and it’s free to air – what more can we ask for?

I tell you, it’s where it’s at. It’s SailGP’s world and we’re all just living in it.


3 thoughts on “Vortex Escaping

  1. I just wish someone would tell Mr. Coutts that when everything is going right, you *shouldn’t* start unnecessary drama over stupid inconsequential things, be it the legal slapfight over graphics or the tone-deaf coronavirus comments. You really can just relax and enjoy things, I promise! Leave the pointless drama to the AC.

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    1. Like, I absolutely LOVE that part of SailGP’s potential to be better than the AC is that overall it is a more friendly, low-drama environment, I just think it should start at the top.

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  2. Sail GP is not free to air in NZ. There is almost no coverage of AC in NZ. To be fair I don’t have a TV but even in the Auckland print media, it’s a no show. (The last brouhaha with Mark Dumphy was hidden in the business section of the NZ Herald).

    I get most of my news about sailing from Rule69 and my general news from my favourite Tarot reader, Tarot by Janine.

    Here in Aotearoa we only have Covid News and Adverts for Rest Homes.

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