Discussions are apparently taking place between Sir Ben Ainslie and SailGP regarding his participation in the 2020 SailGP league.
Rumours have been circulating since we published a ‘Tip & Shaft’ interview with Julien Di Biase, chief operating officer, earlier this year which suggested that . . .
“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 funding will disappear.”
In realistic terms the SailGP league set-up is looking for incremental sponsorship gains year over year, not a full sponsorship position in season 2. But, if a team got to the end of Season 2 without a single sponsor, then that team’s future in the league could be in doubt.
As SailGP’s chief executive Russell Coutts has said . . . this only works if we are commercially viable and financially sustainable.
Teams will be looking at a yearly outlay in the region of £5.5 million pounds (US$7 million) – not a lot when compared to an America’s Cup budget of £108 million pounds (US$140 million).
The involvement of INEOS Team UK is possibly linked to Jim Ratcliffe’s propensity for buying up sports teams – winners and losers!
He purchased Swiss football club FC Lausanne-Sport in 2017, then picked up Ainslie’s America’s Cup team, and then snapped up cycling’s Team Sky and the OGC Nice football team.
Ratcliffe also supported the October 2019 Ineos 1:59 Challenge, a successful effort by Eliud Kipchoge to run 26.2 miles under 2 hours.
The involvement of INEOS as a backer of Great Britain SailGP could see some of the AC75 crew rotating through the event, with recently re-signed top multihull sailor Leigh McMillan an obvious choice.
Great Britain SailGP did not exactly set the competition on fire in season 1, finishing fourth of six teams and securing partners for season 2 is a priority.
Also the two principle crew on the British SailGP multihull have been selected for Team GB in the 49er event at the Tokyo Olympics taking place in August 2020, which could prove a conflict of interests in the lead-up to the Games.
Plus INEOS Team UK have their own Team GB involvement, with tactician Giles Scott selected for the Finn event at Tokyo 2020 – he is already headed down to Melbourne for the Finn Worlds and will not be back on AC duty until Jnauary next year.
The SailGP Season 2 will debut 28-29 February 2020 in Sydney, before heading to the USA for events in San Francisco in May and New York in June, and then to Europe for Cowes in mid August.
SailGP is presently fully underwritten by Larry Ellison co-founder of Oracle Corporation. A keen sailor, Ellison entered five US teams in America’s Cup events, winning twice.