Largest-ever SailGP fleet ready for record SailGP Season 4

Ten F50s to line up on Lake Michigan for the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago on June 16 and 17

CHICAGO – June 15, 2023 – With SailGP’s Season 4 opening event taking place in less than 24 hours, 10 national teams are poised for battle on the stunning waters of Lake Michigan for the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix at Navy Pier in Chicago. With official practice racing called off due to weather teams will have to hit the ground running for tomorrow’s first race day of the season.

It’s been six weeks since the Mubadala Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco which saw the Australia SailGP Team defend its title for the second time. The Germany SailGP Team entered the league soon after Tom Slingsby lifted the trophy for the Aussies, with the newcomers led by double Olympic sailing bronze medallist Erik Heil. The announcement of Germany joining the league has been heightened by the fact the team is backed by four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel and leading businessman Thomas Riedel.

At the official Season 4 opening press conference Heil said: “I’m feeling very excited and happy and honored to be here to be honest and to have the chance to sail against these legends for sure. We are nervous and yet also relaxed, in that we know that we have to focus on ourselves for the next couple of months for sure and just making quick progress is our first goal. This makes us a little more relaxed as we won’t worry about the rest of the fleet but to have a situation on the water with 10 boats – which we haven’t had before – makes us nervous.”

The team is already impressing its rivals. Quentin Delapierre, France SailGP Team’s driver, said: “I think Erik has built a really nice team, the management, the communication so far and also the owners – which is probably the toughest part to do when you come from the Olympics – it’s impressive. He’s bringing together some really good athletes. I’m sure they will have a great season.”

All eyes are once again on Australia, as the other nine teams are determined to put up a bigger fight than ever and take the title from Slingsby and his team.

Slingsby said: “I think we would have preferred to have the victory parade a bit longer but we’re straight back into Season 4. Really, it’s a good thing, we finished last season on a high. Getting Australia to the top of the podium, we’ve all grown up sailing, and you want to have yourself and your country at the top of the podium. It’s a life long dream for us to compete for Australia on the world stage, there’s no lack of motivation, I could still do this for 20 years and still be motivated.”

With the announcement of four US host cities added to the line up this season, including Los Angeles and New York, expectations for US SailGP team driver, Jimmy Spithill, are higher than ever. The team has spent the last six weeks analyzing the data and insights from last season to bring their best to this opening event .

Spithill said: “The big part is trying to minimize the mistakes and trying to steer clear of any close situations and weigh up the risk and reward and know when to back off. This season more than any with 10 boats will be really important.”

Teams compete for two trophies in SailGP, with the third season of the Impact League, SailGP’s second podium for the planet, also starting in Chicago. The Impact League tracks the positive actions the teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing. The New Zealand SailGP Team won the podium in Season 2 and the ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team took home the title last season.

Danish driver Sehested said: “I think everyone up here has the goal to win but after our Impact League success we definitely have to say it out loud that we want to be in the top three in San Francisco for the racing as well. We have ROCKWOOL support and some good sailors on board and we have what it takes so we have to push hard for that. Last season, sixth place wasn’t a great result for us but if you give into the results a bit deeper, there’s a bit more to it than just a sixth place but it’s all forward from here on and can’t wait to start tomorrow.”

The Impact League podium was a neck-and-neck race for the Kiwis, similar to how it was in the racing last season.

Peter Burling, New Zealand SailGP Team driver said: “I think the Impact League for our team was as close as the racing final. Denmark did an amazing job and for sure our team will be pushing super hard to win both titles this season.”

Chicago is the first of 12 confirmed venues that will form the Season 4 calendar. SailGP’s next event, in a new host city, is the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix at the Port of Los Angeles on July 22 – 23. The fleet then goes on to Saint-Tropez, Taranto, Andalucía-Cádiz, the UAE, Sydney, Auckland, Bermuda, Canada, New York, and San Francisco.

The season commences at 4 p.m. local time tomorrow and can be seen on CBS Sports in the United States and streamed live on YouTube. For all the details on how to watch around the globe, visit SailGP.com/watch. For Chicago-based fans, a few final tickets are still available for the weekend but are selling fast, head to SailGP.com/Chicago for more information.

ROLEX UNITED STATES SAIL GRAND PRIX | CHICAGO, NAVY PIER //
Day One Racing: Friday, June 16, 4-5.30 p.m. Central Daylight Time
Day Two Racing: Saturday, June 17, 4-5.30 p.m. Central Daylight Time

SAILGP SEASON 3 CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL STANDINGS //
1 // AUSTRALIA
2 // New Zealand
3 // Emirates Great Britain
4 // France
5 // Canada
6 // Denmark
7 // United States
8 // Switzerland
9 // Spain

SAILGP SEASON 3 FINAL IMPACT LEAGUE STANDINGS //
1 // Denmark // 1565 points
2 // New Zealand // 1560 points
3 // Great Britain // 1516 points

MEDIA HUB // The SailGP Media Hub is a dedicated space for media to be able to cover SailGP events remotely and includes live streams and updates, press conferences participation and post-race athlete interviews. Access the SailGP Media Hub via mediahub.sailgp.com.

ABOUT SAILGP // SailGP is the world’s most exciting racing on water. The global championship features national teams battling in short, intense races at iconic stadium-style venues across the globe. The high-tech, high-speed action features sailing’s best athletes racing in identical hydrofoiling F50 catamarans, flying at speeds approaching 100 km/h. SailGP also races for a better future, championing a world powered by nature. Visit SailGP.com for more information.

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