SailGP launches ‘race for the future’ initiative to accelerate change

Jonathan Turner
08 October 2020

Global championship to set new standard as first climate positive sports property, while accelerating change to a cleaner and more inclusive future

SailGP inclusion initiative

SailGP has announced a clear focus on accelerating changer towards a cleaner and more inclusive future with a newly-launched initiative: Race For The Future. 

The initiative, which sees SailGP set a new standard as the first climate positive sports and entertainment property, will deliver actions and innovations to advance the global adoption of clean energy. Underpinning the plan is a diversification of the league, with the goal of immediately progressing gender and racial inclusivity. 

Having postponed Season 2 due to the pandemic, SailGP is building on the foundations it set in year one when it launched a gender-balanced youth and community outreach programme – SailGP Inspire – and set the initial goal of winning the race to zero carbon. 

From intention to action 

SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts said: “We have a responsibility and a purpose that goes beyond our compelling entertainment proposition. Sustainable development is paramount to the world’s future, and through SailGP, we have a unique platform to accelerate change.  

Race for the Future takes us from intention to action, with a real ability to effect environmental and social transformation within and outside of the sport.

“Simply put, having a zero-carbon footprint and a diverse staff is not enough; we’ve challenged ourselves to think bigger and broader. These issues go beyond SailGP, beyond the sport and beyond the industry, and we will strongly advocate for the critical adoption of clean energy, while serving as champions of inclusivity.” 

Accelerating change 

SailGP will harness clean tech, drive innovation through networking labs and inspire action amongst fans, partners and stakeholders. 

  • Clean Tech– using its own research and design capabilities to develop, test and bring to market sustainable innovations.
  • Innovation Lab –bringing together partners, stakeholders, thought leaders and change makers to collaborate, facilitate and showcase advances in clean tech innovations.
  • Inspire Action– From grassroots youth programmes to consumer campaigns,SailGP will look to inspire action among its audiences, partners and fans using its global events, social, digital and broadcast platforms. In addition, 10,000 young people will be educated about sustainability through SailGP Inspire in event host cities. 

ROCKWOOL Group CEO Jens Birgersson said: “Sustainability is at the heart of our business at ROCKWOOL Group, and SailGP provides us a global platform to raise awareness, showcase sustainable solutions and share our optimism around today’s sustainability challenges, especially in urban environments.” 

We believe that a more sustainable future is possible, and that, together, we can accelerate change, drive innovation, and inspire current and future generations to take action.” 

Setting a new sustainability standard 

SailGP will become the first climate positive property, going beyond a net zero carbon footprint in all business and event operations. To achieve this, SailGP will drastically reduce its carbon output and invest in projects to eliminate more than the remaining emissions, ultimately creating an environmental benefit.

SailGP will track and verify its carbon emissions through a partnership with One Carbon World, a global resource partner of the UN Climate Neutral Now Initiative. 

Nicolai Sehested, helmsman of Denmark SailGP Team, said: "SailGP’s global platform is a massive opportunity to accelerate change and shine the light on key issues facing our environment.”

All of our Denmark SailGP Team athletes are passionate about our planet, and it’s really exciting that as a league SailGP can combine incredible racing and cutting-edge technology with a clear focus on the urgent need for change using Race for the Future." 

Three of SailGP’s primary activity areas – on water, onshore and in cities – have been identified to reduce the league’s carbon footprint. In each area, SailGP is partnering with like-minded and innovative companies to fully transition to clean energy solutions.

On-Water 

SailGP’s F50 race boats are one of the best showcases of clean energy in the world – they harness the power of the wind, traveling at 3-4 times its speed. 

A key project to ensure both the race and support boats are powered by nature is reducing the carbon impact of the support boats – necessary to safely manage SailGP racing. Working in partnership with ePropulsion, a leading innovator of portable electric outboard boat motors, SailGP will transition 11 boats to ePropulsion motors for the start of Season 2.

SailGP has also partnered with Evoy, an innovative Norwegian company providing high-output electric propulsion systems for boats, to find a solution for the electrification of the league’s high-speed chase boats. Through a ‘pilot partnership,’ an initial boat will be upgraded to test at the first European event in Season 2 and, if successful, a plan will be implemented to transition the remainder of the boats to electric engines.

The overall goal is to have a fully electric support boat fleet by 2025 – removing the equivalent of 175 cars from the road – and helping to lead a clean energy revolution in the marine industry.

Onshore

On the shore, SailGP is shifting from technologies based on fossil fuels to 100 per cent renewable power by 2025. At the core of the project will be temporary event power supplied by generators using clean fuel. 

Though the race boats are inherently powered by nature, they require batteries to run the electronics and store power during racing, so it is essential that once onshore, these are recharged using clean energy.  

To meet the goal of the race boats being fully powered by nature, a new mobile off-grid solar solution was implemented in Season 1, working in partnership with Tesla and using a Tesla Powerwall system.  

SailGP will work to expand the initiative to power additional elements of its technical boat operations, including the electric outboard motors that will be used by the support boat fleet. 

Another key onshore project is looking at the circularity in the production of the race boats. A partnership with ELG – the world’s first carbon fibre recovery plant based in the UK – will allow waste carbon fibre from the F50s to be recycled and re-introduced into the manufacturing process for the evolution of the race boat in future seasons, ensuring a responsible and reduced carbon manufacturing process.  

This will be a vital step in addressing the issue of global carbon consumption  and raising awareness of closed loop recycling within the marine industry and beyond. 

In Cities 

Another new development for 2021, each of the eight national teams competing in SailGP will race with purpose. Every team will sign a Race for the Future charitable partner in their market, not only offering valuable commercial space on the boat to raise awareness for the partners’ causes, but also to secure funding for their partner through race results.  

Race for the Future, Part 2 will be released on October 20 with details regarding female athlete inclusion in the league for Season 2, as well as robust initiatives to fully integrate diversity, equity and inclusion in every part of the business.