SailGP Sketchbook

After the usual kerfuffle and taxation of working out the mid-Atlantic timezone, we will dive into the SailGP Season 3 opener. Do we watch on the App, Facebook, YouTube or wait for the show on Sky Sports? My preference is YouTube ‘coz’ I’m down with the kids. How much time do our offspring spend on this medium? A lot. But that’s another issue. Is it better on a laptop or will the iPhone suffice? Personal preference. But we’ll be there, right? Too good to miss and really don’t want to watch on catch up. It has to be live. Let’s hope the commentary is good. And right. And that the umpire calls are what we individually understand of the Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-2024 (updated January 2021) although let’s face it, none of us have read them in a while. Armchair Admirals rarely do, because we know. Okay?

©Simon Bruty for SailGP

We also know what colour ‘our’ boat is. And we know what colour those Aussies are. Gosh they’re amazing. They don’t know when they’re beat and it must be a good, no great, feeling to have banked two million of the folding stuff since time began. How did they split it? Was it equanimity or did the Red Mist scoop enough for that green Ferrari? Yes I said that correctly. Why green? Oh I get it. Cool.

©Thomas Lovelock for SailGP. Handout image supplied by SailGP

Game faces on. SunGod and Oakley ski-goggles drawn down but those Prada ones are natty. How much do they cost? Google them and discard the thought immediately. You’d only wear them once a year. Waste of money but oooh, Jimmy does look good and very pro. They all do. We all want to do something where microphones are involved. We dare not say “copy” on our 30 foot cruiser/racer in the beer can Tuesday race for fear of being ordered to buy the first round. Go on say it next time the foredeck crew calls you an idiot for heading up at the leeward mark before the spinnaker is clear. She might never come sailing again.

Stop Googling the Prada goggles – you can’t afford them.

Back to Bermuda though and away from the spray and dash of the racing, those houses on the shoreline look nice. Dreams of an Ernest Hemingway existence are hard to ignore. Martinis dry and Mojito’s sweet. A couple of paragraphs a day should suffice before the bar and an afternoon nap, rocked away as the blue-water twinkles. In the evening it will be luscious spider crab perhaps. Those dreams don’t come true. But we can dream nonetheless. How much is a beach house…stop.

©Sam Greenfield for SailGP

I’m in the blue camp. Well it’s a baby blue with Spiderman stripes. But you might be cheering for Canada, and why not, or the Swiss – are there Cup people on that boat in disguise? We’re just not sure. Maybe you’re an All Black cheering the Silver Fern. A good bet. Or a yankee cheering an Aussie that happens to make San Diego his home. Good for you.

You might be French, if you’re lucky, and you know that they will be there in Barcelona. A dollar short and a day late, it matters not. Where’s that pack of Gauloises? Or Spain. They’ll be there too, cosseted by tax breaks the likes of which only the Catalonians could construct but this SailGP team are hard charging. That’s what we like. No, we love a charger. The Spanish Bull is snorting. Take your eyes off the Danes however and you might miss everything. Lurking in the shadows like the most devious spy from a Clancy novel, the Danes could spring into the open at a moment’s notice. They’re great. Great Danes.

Photo: Simon Bruty for SailGP

But Season 3 could be decided on count-back with an average points allocation to the Wind Whisperer that we’ve tried to understand but quite simply don’t. We didn’t read it. We nod as we’re being told by the informed but in reality our brains aren’t wired like that. The Rising Sun should be there and the granite, no-nonsense, determination of Outteridge is a rueful omission. He’ll be back and angrier than ever.

But beware the wounded Kiwi Tiger. The original one of those now runs the show – we don’t see enough of Coutts. We get paragraphs in releases that clearly aren’t his words (far too eloquent) and he remains an enigma until handing out the champers in San Francisco. Who’d a thunk it? The biggest name in the sport relegated upstairs. Come on down.

If he did, there’s competition in the cool stakes now. This isn’t 2002 anymore when he bestrode sailing like colossus. And the properly cool ones are to be found right at the back of the boat. Their time will come further forward. It has to. One step forward to the wheel is what I demand to see. It will happen. But what a welcome sight to have diversity at the top. Mandates work. A dedicated league would be even better and that’s coming, I’m told. Female athletes make SailGP. It’s the single biggest USP. The calling card. It blooming well works. AC take note. Oh they did.

Georgia Lewin-LaFrance, co-pilot and strategist of Canada SailGP Team ©Felix Diemer for SailGP

Racing will be racing however. We’ve seen it before. It’s the hope that kills. It’s the spills that thrill. And it’s the first line of a great story, a riveting novella, that you won’t be able to put down this year. Singapore, Sydney, Chicago, Christchurch, Dubai and San Francisco await. Plymouth is most likely for you. It’s a good venue. Honestly. Cowes would be better but I would say that. The beach to the west of the Squadron would sell out of ice cream on a July day. Red trousers everywhere. They know, you know.

©Thomas Lovelock for SailGP

SailGP is truly global and let’s face it, has conquered like the Empire of old. This armada is unstoppable and conducted at pace. Big pace. 50 knot type pace. Marvel in the technology. Rejoice at the sporting heroes. Oooh and Aah at the fire-hose spray. Enjoy the spectacle and opine vociferously on the sailor’s calls. Woulda, coulda, shoulda is the lexicon of the committed SailGP watcher.

Love it. Hate it. Be mildly bemused by it. But have an opinion. It’s the bracketed apex along with the America’s Cup and it trickles down whether you believe it or not. We all benefit from SailGP on the calendar. Embrace it, be inspired by it. It’s utterly brilliant.


10 thoughts on “SailGP Sketchbook

  1. What a great read again, Magnus. Thanks for the morning brief.
    It so easy to watch it on the „big screen“ wireless via Apple TV. Just put it on via the (I) tablet because one needs the phone for sharing comments with friends. I do not like it as it distracts from the screen but it is great to share the SAILGP experience with distant sailing buddies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah but. So that’s all great. But why can’t we watch the Friday practice races live? Ok, they are possible substitute races in case for any reason the Saturday steam crashes or the races are cancelled. But still!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There won’t be any substitute Racing in Bermuda though! Breeze looks fine for tomorrow, Light to Medium.

      Sunday more Medium.

      That being said late last weekend I was really worried winds might get too light.


  3. “Beware the wounded Kiwi Tiger.”

    Err, isn’t Nathan Australian?

    I mean, unless you mean Pete, but it was hard to tell from the context.

    As for Coutts? Well, the conclusion is probably the same one Sports Illustrated came to 25 years ago— I don’t think anyone except him really knows what he thinks. We project our own character narratives— he’s a brilliant Byronic genius rebelling against the hidebound traditionalists and nationalists! He’s a devious mercenary mastermind and everything is all part of the insidious plan! He’s a complete bungler and dupe off the water and any success ashore is dumb luck! —because, ultimately, Coutts is a cipher:

    Someday when he’s REALLY retired, there will probably be an interesting documentary like the recent Tiger Woods one.

    Sadly, deciding how to watch live is a problem I’d LIKE to have— I work Saturday and Sunday, and the racing falls right in the middle of my workday!


    1. Sketchbook commentary writing skips around at pace. It’s tough to write. I enjoy doing it though. Burling was who I intended as the ‘wounded Kiwi Tiger’ to lead into the Coutts analogy. Perhaps I should have paragraphed it better!!!


  4. Manfred got it right. Phone or laptop — not the way to go. LARGE is the only way to go. This will be on my 55″ TV. in fact I’m trying to persuade dearest that the 55’er is 10 years old, faded, and only 1080P. Time for the 70″, 2K, which, honey, is on sale! Gotta watch the spectacular action on as big a screen as possible.


  5. This “Japan is broke” thing almost feels like the management just want an excuse to sell the team to another country. We were told in January that there was “no intention” for any current team to be dropped this season and that the whole league was funded for five years.

    Yeah, sure, I’ll kick in a hundred dollars if they need it from fans, but if Larry makes more in five minutes than I make in a month, I don’t see why HE can’t do it— he did for three years and isn’t any poorer for it.


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