After a six-week hiatus, Sail GP is back for its highly anticipated third season.
This weekend the fastest boats in the world re-visit the famous pink sandy beaches and picturesque waters of Bermuda for the first event of the re-shaped and expanded sailing competition.
The newly upgraded high-speed, hydro foiling F50 catamarans take to the iconic Great Sound waters to showcase their formidable top speeds of 98.3km/h.
With new events, additional franchise teams, and continued pioneering innovation and sustainability aims, season three is set to impress again on the world sailing stage.
Last time round
Season two concluded with an invigorating finale on the iconic waters of San Francisco Bay.
Tom Slingsby’s Australian team took the championship win for the second season running proving the most consistent and relentless throughout the course of the season.
Peter Burling’s New Zealand team won the Impact League trophy after an exemplary performance in season-long sustainability and accelerating the transition to clean energy.
After a season riddled with drama, rivalries and excellence, season three expects to deliver even more chaos and certainly more high-speed entertainment.
Ones to watch
Ahead of this weekend’s opening event in Bermuda, here are the Sports Gazette’s ‘ones to watch’ for Sail GP Season 3.
Kevin Peponnet replaces Leigh McMillan as Wing Trimmer for SailGP France, forming the first all French-speaking crew. United in their ‘mother-tongue’, the French team will be hopeful for greater chemistry on the waters with increased and easier on-board communication. A factor that was said to be a struggle during season two.
However, translating tactics at 80km/h proved most entertaining as SailGP’s international broadcast commentator David ‘Freddie’ Carr described the French team’s communication on board during Season 2 as ‘Brexit all over again’.
Youthful prospect, CJ Perez, retains her position within the USA team after an impressive debut season.
Perez, 18, stormed up the ranks becoming the first female athlete to win the 2018 North American Championship, to then win the World Championship just a year later. And now she holds the title of ‘first American woman, first Latina, and the youngest person ever to race in the SailGP championship’.
Perez is destined for greatness and she is only just getting started.
With Denmark still searching for that elusive SailGP event victory, team captain Nicolai Sehested will be looking to effectively utilise 2020 Olympic Gold medallist; Anne-Marie Rindom, a fearless and tactically skilled sailor fit for the ambitions of Sehested for Season 3.
“We aren’t the newbies anymore, and for the first time we’re returning to a SailGP venue – so hopefully we can use our experience of last season to get the edge this weekend” Sehested explains.
“We’re confident going into the new season. We’ve already shown that we can win races against the best teams in SailGP – we just need to start putting those victories together with more consistency. We are focused on doing that, starting in Bermuda.”
Despite various season two race wins, Team Denmark will have their work cut out for them if they wish to turn those race wins into event victories and improve their 6th place championship finish last term.
New teams, new events, new challenges
SailGP Season 3 welcome’s Switzerland and Canada to the competition.
After Phil Robertson’s abrupt departure from the Spanish team during last season, the dynamic sailor joins Team Canada as captain and driver. Having led China to a bronze medal in the inaugural 2019 season, Robertson aims to replicate an impressive finish with the Canadians this season.
Also joining the roster is Team Switzerland, led by driver Sébastien Schneiter. The Swiss are hopeful of impressing the world’s greatest sailors and proving that they are here to stay.
The Swiss team will also be racing with an important call to action for the SailGP community to recognise and uphold ‘#BacktheBid’ which aims to see sailing reinstated into the Paralympic games in time for LA 2028.
SailGP brings the sailing world to the most scenic and iconic sailing areas on the planet. The continued development of the competition has added two more destinations for the world’s fastest boats; Dubai and Singapore, with a third event set to be added and announced within the coming weeks.
Bermuda we are back 💥 pic.twitter.com/lZt4s4pR1i
— SailGP (@SailGP) May 8, 2022
With a rather disappointing end to the season for Team GB, Sir Ben Ainslie has set his sights on glory and where better to start than on the waters of Great Britain’s last event victory.
Surely the 11-time world champion cannot settle for a third season without victory.
But it will certainly take a monumental effort to better the now two-time champions, Australia.
Preparations are well underway, and the coral islands of Bermuda are ready to witness the striking F50s in all of their glory on May 14-15.