SailGP – Accelerating The Energy Transition

SailGP races for a better future, championing a world powered by nature. The world’s most exciting racing on-water, SailGP is the only annual global championship featuring short, intense races at iconic global locations. The best athletes in the sport race identical supercharged F50 catamarans, which fly above the water at exhilarating high speeds. National teams compete for sailing’s top prize, racing for the future with global partners to achieve measurable impact. Central to championing a better future is an investment in clean energy technologies that can help accelerate the energy transition, not just within SailGP but in the wider marine world and beyond.

The support fleet of the championship facilitates the operation of all things racing on water at events, with a range of demanding roles fulfilled by the fleet, from team support boats and safety boats right through to broadcast and hospitality boats. Each one of these boats has a vital role to play in enabling the spectacle of competitive racing at every SailGP event across the globe.

However, as some of the championship’s most visible assets, the support fleet presents the championship with a tangible challenge in its quest to be powered by nature, as it is currently being powered by non-renewable fuels and significantly contributes to SailGPs Scope 1 emissions. Recognising this challenge, SailGP has set the ambition to have its entire support fleet powered by clean energy by 2025. This goal presents SailGP with the opportunity to significantly lower its carbon footprint, accelerate the development of decarbonisation technologies and provide an innovation platform for emerging technologies whilst using its global platform to ensure the transferability of these technologies.

The wide-ranging performance and operational demands of the support fleet present an obvious challenge in decarbonisation, with the team support boats having to travel at speeds of 40+ kts during long operational windows with limited downtime for refueling. Add to this the additional complex dual-roles that many of the fleet must play at events and the decarbonisation challenge becomes even more evident. Solutions need to also fit within tight operational requirements, namelty the logistical challenges of a global championship operating in the confines of shipping containers, and additionally the tight schedule in between races, which gives little time for maintenance.

Nonetheless, SailGP is facing this challenge head-on and is working with a number of vendors looking to integrate technology solutions into existing fleet assets or charter sustainable solutions directly into their race fleet. Where current technology does not meet the fleet performance requirements, SailGP is looking towards technology development to push the boundaries of innovation within the championship and within the wider marine sector. One such example of this is the RFP that the championship is looking to put out for the development of the world’s most sustainable support boat. Not only are SailGP looking to develop a high performance support boat that works in the context of a mobile championship, but they are looking to set a new standard for sustainable boat end-to-end manufacture and end of life design. A multi-technology and collaborative approach will be key to ensuring that SailGP realises its 2025 ambitions, whilst the establishment of industry and research links throughout will ensure technology transfer and that the wider impact of the sport continues to prevail.