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Volume 26 No. 207

Events and Attractions

Ellison hopes SailGP will become profitable by the end of the third season in '21
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Ellison hopes SailGP will become profitable by the end of the third season in '21
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Ellison hopes SailGP will become profitable by the end of the third season in '21
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Oracle Founder & Exec Chair Larry Ellison will formally launch his new global sailing property SailGP tonight at an event in London. It is a costly, self-funded startup that will position itself as a more corporate- and fan-friendly competitor to America’s Cup. SailGP will launch in '19 with five events in or near major markets: Sydney; S.F.; N.Y.; Isle of Wight, U.K.; and Marseilles, France. Six country teams will compete: Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan and the U.S. SailGP is designed to take aim at the America’s Cup’s weaknesses as a modern sports property. Under the rules of the 167-year-old series, the winning club gets expansive rights to set the terms of the next competition, including its competition format, location and dates. Ellison and Russell Coutts, a former Oracle Team USA and America’s Cup Events Authority CEO, had plans of instituting more standardization had they won the ’17 race, but New Zealand won last year’s Cup and now is preparing to host the ’21 race. “The venues change, the teams change, the rules change, the look of the series often changes dramatically,” said Coutts, now SailGP CEO. "We want to provide an annual series that sponsors and media partners and the teams themselves can participate in, and build brand equity in, over a long period of time." In each weekend event, the six SailGP teams will race in five full-field races each designed to take about 20 minutes, with a 90-minute television broadcast window in mind. Then, the top two teams by finishing points will go head-to-head in the final race of the weekend. The last event of the series, in France next September, will culminate in a final two-team championship race with a $1M winner-take-all prize.

ELLISON FUNDING ENTIRE EFFORT: SailGP is being backed entirely by Ellison, who founded two-time America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA in the '00s. Their goal is to become profitable by the end of the third season in '21, Coutts said, the same year as the next America’s Cup. The size of Ellison’s up-front investment is not known. Another distinction from the America’s Cup is that every team will race in identical 50-foot catamarans, taking away financial and engineering advantages that tend to dictate results as much as sailing strength in traditional sailing. Oracle and Louis Vuitton have signed on as sponsors so far. SailGP has secured Whisper Films as production partner. Linear and digital distribution deals are still in the works, Coutts said.

SAILGP SCHEDULE
DATE
LOCATION
Feb. 15-16
Sydney
May 4-5
S.F.
June 21-22
N.Y.
Aug. 10-11
Cowes (U.K.)
Sept. 20-22
Marseille (France)
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