The second day of competition at the France SailGP: Ahead of Saint-Tropez, the nine teams sail the F50 boat for prize money and points. From 2.25 pm you can watch the scene in the live broadcast.
What is SailGP anyway?
SailGP is the world’s fastest sailing league and thus guarantees stunning visuals. At SailGP, the pros compete on the F50 catamaran – these are high-tech racing machines that literally fly over water. Or, as commentator Gerhard Lenoyer put it in front of the first Grand Prix: “A whole new world on water.”
In the phone conversation, Lenoir explained that people also like to talk about Formula 1 on the water. “They have 20-25 km/h winds on site. This is a wind we all know makes trees burn a little bit. And with this wind, they drive 80 km/h.” This is a quantum leap compared to the past few years. Sailing boats, which sway up and down the water at a speed of 20 km / h, have been developed into boats that, thanks to new technologies, can be lifted out of the water and are much faster.
In addition, viewers can be closely located. “Sailing used to have a go signal, then they sail for miles in the sea or lake and come back an hour and a half later. Now everything is so close to shore, with a great backdrop, the spectators are right there and they see the boats from 50 meters away. It’s unbelievable.”
What does the race weekend look like?
“The races are designed to last no more than 20 minutes. There are three races a day. All the boats move back and forth very fast through the track, to the finish and that’s it. So amazing and really cool.”
Is it a large amount of prize money or are you investing more than you earn?
“You can only participate if you have patrons who are obsessed with sailing, such as Ernesto Bertarelli with Larry Ellison of the Swiss company Oracle or Larry Ellison,” says Lenoir. At the end of the Sailing Premier League, there will be a million prize money for the winning boat. However, this amount is only a “drop in the ocean” and does not even begin to cover development costs. “But a million always looks good,” says Lenoir.
All participants are professional sailors who are paid to participate in the tour. In addition, they are also in other boating classes, so there is turmoil in the field of World Cup starters and Olympic participants and many of them will also participate in the most famous America’s Cup or have been contracted for the Vendée Globe. “So the professional sailors are doing really well.”
Where are the races held?
On weekends, the caravan stops in Saint-Tropez. It is fifth out of eleven spots in the third season of the still young but promising sport. The tournament started in Bermuda in May 2022 and will end in San Francisco in May 2023. You can see the other locations in the image below.
How is the participant domain configured?
The World Championships bring together the best athletes in the sport. A Swiss team also participated in the beginning of the current season. Competitors come from Canada, Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the USA.
What are the roles on the boat?
On the one hand there is the helmsman. “You have to be perfectly fit, fully tense in your head, not to let the boat fall off the chips. Otherwise you will miss important seconds to get it back.” A very difficult task at this speed and with all the other boats in the course. The helmsman must be able to count Full on the navigator and strategist, who sees where the best winds are and then, as it were, dictates the way.
Then there is the engine room. There are only poor bastards who have to turn the cranks to charge the power that moves the boat,” says Lenoir in a cheerful voice. The sails and shims cannot be moved manually as they used to, as they are controlled by a hydraulic system. And that hydraulic system needs power. And that power comes from Grinders, that’s what they call those on the crank. Those are the ones who stubbornly do their job. Crank, crank, crank.”
We hope you are now ready for a different sailing weekend. You can enjoy it and you don’t even have to touch the crank.
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