Sailing

Coutts: Bermuda could host grand prix in future

  • Sir Russell Coutts has not ruled Bermuda out as a future host of a SailGP grand prix

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Sir Russell Coutts, the former America’s Cup chief executive, has not ruled out the possibility of the flying foiling catamarans returning to Bermuda as part of the newly launched SailGP series.

Coutts, a five-times America’s Cup winner, headed up the America’s Cup Event Authority, which helped to deliver the 35th instalment of the event in Bermuda in the summer of 2017.

Although Bermuda will not be involved in the SailGP series, Coutts, speaking to The Royal Gazette, refused to rule out the island’s possible future inclusion.

“SailGP’s inaugural 2019 season will include grand-prix events in Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Cowes and Marseilles,” said Coutts, who claimed a gold medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles in 1984.

“We plan to grow to ten annual events, with an immediate plan to add venues in Asia in 2020 and 2021.

“A number of additional countries are in consideration for future events, including Bermuda, which served as a fantastic host for the 35th America’s Cup.”

Echoing Coutts’s sentiments, SailGP spokeswoman Christy Cahill explained the reasoning behind the chosen venues for next year’s grand-prix stages.

“Bermuda is one of the cities in consideration to host a future grand-prix following the largely successful 35th America’s Cup,” she said. “In SailGP’s inaugural season, the focus is on having events in markets with representation of a national team, a key element to the new global sports property.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Tourism and Transport Zane DeSilva revealed no discussions have yet been held regarding Bermuda’s possible future involvement, but did state he would be in favour of any such opportunity.

“Anything that will get people to come to Bermuda, I’m definitely in favour of it,” he said.

“However, no discussions have been had as yet and so nothing has surfaced.”

Thousands of locals and tourists converged on the purpose-built Cross Island to enjoy the spectacle both on and off the water, in which Emirates Team New Zealand blew away the competition to lift the “Auld Mug”. A little more than 12 months after the event and the fanfare that went with it left Bermudian shores, Coutts, along with Oracle Corporation co-founder Larry Ellison teamed up once again to launch SailGP.

The competition will involve six teams from Britain, United States, Australia, France, China and Japan battling for the championship trophy and $1 million in prize money.

The circuit will visit five international seaside cities in its inaugural season in 2019, including Sydney, San Francisco, New York, Cowes, and Marseilles with each grand prix comprising two competition days with five fleet races, culminating in a final match race between the two leaders. Each five-person crew will race on identical 50-foot foiling catamarans, a redesigned, supercharged incarnation of the technologically advanced AC50 that “flew” across the Great Sound during the America’s Cup.