The first season of the new SailGP circuit is reckoned to have cost Larry Ellison 50 million dollars (£40.6 million).
Broken down into . . . six teams to fund (at US$5 million per team) and events to organise.
The final leg of the season in Marseille cost US$4 million (£3.25 million) funded entirely by SailGP. They claimed 16,000 people over the three days and around 4,500 places sold.
This is according to the French newsletter “Tip & Shaft” which carried out an appraisal of the F50 circuit launched by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts.
Julien Di Biase, chief operating officer in SailGP, admits that as they tackled the first season of SailGP, the organisers were going into the unknown, in particular concerning the reaction of the public for this circuit.
Di Biase estimated the event crowds were: “On average we had between 20,000 and 40,000 spectators, and in terms of ticket sales, between 500 and 2000 tickets a day.”
Ultimately, the six teams are going to have to find their own partners, but none of the teams has so far attracted partners other than suppliers.
The clock is ticking. If SailGP initially talked about a guarantee for five years, that no longer appears to be the case:
“The pressure is on for the teams to find commercial partners quickly. It’s more than a goal; it’s something that is going to be a requirement. Those who can’t find the finding will disappear. Larry Ellison is a fan of sailing, but he hasn’t just set up SailGP for his own pleasure and he hopes that the circuit will stand on its own two feet,” confirmed Julien Di Biase.
In reply to a question of how much patience the billionaire had, Di Biase replied: “Teams that have not found a partner by the end of next season will find it tough.”
The second season will once again start in late February 2020 in Sydney. The other legs are to be announced shortly.
“Ideally, we’ll be attempting to return to the same towns to build on the experience of this year and we’ll add China to that,“ explained Julien Di Biase.
That was confirmed by Bruno Dubois, team manager for the Chiense team: “We are currently working on organising a leg, but for the moment, we don’t know where.”
Marseille is likely to host a leg again. Another new venue next year could be Scandinavia, as there is the possibility of a seventh team from Sweden or Denmark according to our latest information, as a seventh F50 is being built at Core Builders in New Zealand.
“Talks are ongoing, but nothing has so far been signed,” commented Di Biase. “We’ll only include a new team if it is self-financed. That means any new arrivals must find their own funding, with the goal being to have one new team and venue each year.”
“This year was the first step, but there is a long way to go. Our vision is to have ten teams and ten events. We want to make this the Formula E of the seas, but we’re not there yet,” concluded Julien Di Biase.