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SailGP returns to New York for first time since 2019

High-octane wind-powered racing comes to the Big Apple as SailGP gears up for a return to New York City’s waterways in two weeks.

SailGP returns to New York for first time since 2019
Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

New York City is first and foremost a maritime city. Built on the transatlantic shipping trade, the fortunes of the Big Apple have always been tied to the sea, and the United States has a proud maritime tradition.

SailGP gives a nod to that as they bring back in-port racing as the Mubadala New York Sail Grand Prix competes the weekend of June 22 and 23, with single-day tickets on sale now for $100 per person.

Taking place on the waters of the Hudson River and offering spectators a spectacular view these F50 catamarans against the Manhattan skyline, this is a significant move for a sport that is growing in popularity and prestige within the competitive sailing world.

Intended to be the Formula One of sailing (hence the GP, meaning “Grand Prix”), the format of SailGP is based on high-performance in-shore racing along a circuit, something not normally associated with the slow plodding of wind-powered boats.

What is SailGP?

The concept was brought to life in 2018 by tech entrepreneur Larry Ellison and renowned sailor Russell Coutts and uses innovative technology with a firm commitment to sustainability. SailGP features some of the world’s best sailors, competing in identical, high-speed catamarans known as F50s. These state-of-the-art, hydrofoiling vessels are capable of reaching speeds of up to 60 knots (about 69 mph).

Designed for speed, agility, and precision, and featuring cutting-edge technology that allows them to “fly” above the water on hydrofoils, which reduces drag and significantly increasing speed, each boat is identical, ensuring that races are won by skill and teamwork rather than technological advantages. All boats are equipped with advanced data collection and analysis systems, providing real-time information to teams and audiences alike.

The teams in SailGP are national rather than sponsored teams, with each nation being required to use sailors from their own country. One foreign crewmember is permitted per team and each team must have at least one female sailor on board at all times.

Current teams are Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.

Each event consists of five races where each team earns points for where they finish, from ten for a first place finish down to one for a last place finish. At the end of the two days’ racing, the top three teams will move on to a winner-take all final event.

The same format is followed for the entire season and New York is the penultimate event on the calendar, with the season finalé in San Francisco in July.

The great sailing nations of Australia and New Zealand are perennial favorites, but the youngest team on the circuit is Spain and they are sitting in second place on the season’s leaderboard after a couple of incredible finishes in Bermuda and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

How is Team USA doing this season?

The United States has had a troubling season, suffering a capsize in Bermuda and revamping their team entirely midway through the season. They currently sit in eighth place on 50 total points.

For New York crowds, there will be a week of events in addition to the action-packed race on the water, including music, food, and drinks at the new Governors Island Race Stadium.

Waterfront reserve tickets include a seat at the stadium, live commentary, broadcast viewing, and a round-trip ferry ticket. Or for those who have their own boat, there is a Bring Your Own Boat ticket option for an opportunity to get even closer to the action, starting at $466.

For $40, guests can go behind the scenes to see SailGP’S technical area and the team’s “pit lane garages,” where the boats get ready to run.

This is SailGP’s first return to New York since 2019, and adds the Big Apple to cities like Abu Dhabi, Saint-Tropez, Sydney, Cadiz, Dubai, and Bermuda.

Manhattan-based Mike Buckley is strategist and CEO of team USA and says, “I can’t wait to compete in front of the world’s most iconic skyline and show the most passionate city in the world what a Sail Grand Prix is all about.”