Nine F50s hit the waters off the iconic city-state ahead of the Singapore Sail Grand Prix January 14 and 15
SINGAPORE – As SailGP continues to enhance its reputation as a truly global championship with a regional debut this weekend, all nine drivers have been coming to terms with the unique waters off the coast of Singapore ahead of the Singapore Sail Grand Prix on January 14 and 15. At the first race of a three year deal in the city-state, fans can expect the same close to shore racing that is a hallmark of SailGP globally.
Much of the focus remains on the Australia SailGP Team led by Tom Slingsby, who hold a commanding lead in the championship season after a remarkable come from behind win at the last SailGP event in Dubai last November.
Speaking at the official pre-event press conference at the heart of the Singapore Sail Grand Prix Event Village in East Coast Park, Slingsby said he believed the Australian team had ridden a mix of skill and good fortune to the top of the standings.
Slingsby said: “I wouldn’t say it’s been a consistent season for us. For sure we’ve had a couple of events I’d describe as lucky, and in others the team has sailed really well in important times when we looked like we were down and out, in particular Dubai and Chicago. I see that as a great effort by our team, performing under pressure and a bit of luck, ultimately that’s sport. We’ve been on the right end of a few calls this season and that’s put us in a good position heading into Singapore.”
Starting the weekend in a more challenging position is the defending champion’s closest rival New Zealand, with driver Peter Burling left regretting contact with the United States yesterday in training that will see his team start the weekend on minus four points and receiving two penalty points in the season standings.
Burling said: “It’s a frustrating one but it’s going to be a long weekend so we’re just looking forward to putting our best foot forward and making the most of it. The rules are the rules and you’ve got to play to them. We get such a short amount of time to practice here that you really need to make the most of it, and you can make mistakes through that.”
There will be a familiar face returning to the field this weekend as Great Britain strategist Hannah Mills makes her comeback three months after giving birth to her first child, daughter Sienna. Great Britain driver Sir Ben Ainslie said it had given a huge boost to the team to see the most decorated Olympic female sailor of all time return to the fold.
Ainslie said: “To have Hannah back with the team is a really big deal for us, she’s a once in a generation sailor and I’m really impressed that she’s back just three months after giving birth, Yesterday we were sailing four up and she was on the handles and giving great feedback on the strategy.”
Much of the talk between the drivers was wondering who best can handle the new environment of the Singapore race course.
United States driver Jimmy Spithill said: “It’s an amazing venue here in Singapore. It looks like an incredible city, a great setup for fans – I expect to get a lot of people turning up to enjoy the racing. I’m not sure there can really be a favorite in these conditions, but we should take some confidence because we’ve shown that we can compete at this level in these lighter conditions. When you see some teams like the Aussies having an advantage once the conditions get a little windy, in the lighter air it seems like that’s gone and everyone is on the same level.”
Commercially three of the teams are starting the season on a high, with Spain signing an agreement with port and logistics company Perez y Cia, France signing two deals, one with global financial services provider ICM.com and the other with French hotel group Accor’s lifestyle loyalty program ALL- Accor Live Limitless. The Australian team has also agreed multi-year terms with Skyy Vodka as a sponsor.
SailGP’s thought leadership program Champions For Change brought together like-minded individuals at the Adrenaline Lounge as the build up to the first Grand Prix of 2023 continued. The Danish SailGP team used the event to launch a new initiative with its partner One Ocean Foundation – “More Speed, Less Plastic”, which will take the top speed of the Danish team in each event and turn that into an amount of plastic trash to divert from the ocean. This will also be done for the fastest overall team and the Danish will offset on its behalf, so it gives teams another reason to go fast.
Spectators wanting a unique experience can opt to purchase tickets for the SailGP Beach Club. Located on the beach at Parkland Green, East Coast Park, ticket holders can enjoy a completely new vibe to watch the battles on the water play out in front of them. With an unobstructed view, gazebo shading, dedicated screens, an all-inclusive food and drinks package, it is the ultimate place to experience the fast-paced action.
Racing starts at 2.00pm local time and is live on beIN Sports Asia Pacific and SPOTV2 across the region on both days. For all the details on how to watch around the globe, visit SailGP.com/watch. For fans in Singapore, a few tickets still remain, head to SailGP.com for more information.
SAILGP SEASON 3 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after seven events) //
1 // Australia // 60 points
2 // New Zealand // 51 points
3 // France // 50 points
4 // Great Britain // 48 points
5 // Denmark // 42 points
6 // Canada // 40 points
7 // United States // 39 points
8 // Spain // 22 points
9 // Switzerland // 16 points
*United States penalized 4 season points for incident with France
*Switzerland penalized 2 season points for incident with United States
*New Zealand penalized 2 season points for incident with Switzerland
SAILGP SEASON 3 IMPACT LEAGUE STANDINGS //
1 // Canada // 1074 points
2 // New Zealand // 1072 points
3 // Denmark // 1069 points
4 // Great Britain // 1065 points
5 // France // 1035 points
6 // Spain // 1019 points
7 // United States // 1009 points
8 // Australia // 998 points
9 // Switzerland // 985 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.
SINGAPORE SAIL GRAND PRIX //
Day One Racing: Saturday January 14, 1400-1530 Singapore Standard Time
Day Two Racing (incl. Event Final): Sunday January 15, 1400-1530 Singapore Standard Time
Photo: Ian Walton for SailGP