DUBAI: As the season approaches the halfway point, SailGP is set for a highly anticipated weekend when the league returns to the UAE for the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, taking place Dec. 9-10 at Mina Rashid.
The buildup to the sixth event of Season 4 reads like a script from one of the Hollywood stars involved in the purchase of the US SailGP Team.
Jimmy Spithill is out as a driver, less than two months after delivering the US’ first win of the season in Cadiz-Andalucia, and in his place comes Taylor Canfield for the team now owned by a consortium of entertainment, sports and tech leaders.
However, Spithill has since announced his intention to set up an Italian team in Season 5 and is remarkably still driving in Dubai, representing his home country Australia for the first time since 2001 as replacement for Tom Slingsby, who is on paternity leave. Slingsby’s Australian team increased its championship lead to seven points after third in Cadiz-Andalucia but have now gone five straight finals without a win.
While Australia has benefited from Spithill’s temporary free agency for Dubai, Canada has also swooped in amid the changes to the US team. After Chris Draper stepped down as wing trimmer for Canada, they pounced to get Paul Campbell-James, who has been involved in SailGP since its inception.
Phil Robertson’s Canada will show off another US recruit in Philippe Presti, Canada’s new coach, replacing Joe Glanfield who is focusing on his role with the British Olympic team.
The Dubai event marks SailGP’s first of many Race for the Future takeovers, highlighting the league’s ongoing commitment and passion to climate action with COP28 currently ongoing in the iconic city. The takeover will showcase how the league is racing for impact, innovation, inclusivity and clean energy solutions.
The event has made history already in racing for inclusivity with a first-ever all-female F50 training session taking place in the buildup to racing after the Switzerland team provided their boat. On the ground, there will be a host of innovative activations delivered for the first time, showing how events can be run more sustainably.
This includes a reduction of 36 percent to the on-water fleet, such as racing management and coaches, and the largest temporary solar array Aggreko has ever installed at an event. The event is also powered by 100 percent clean energy.
Sir Ben Ainslie of Emirates Great Britain SailGP, meanwhile, has been among a number of athletes to speak at the global climate conference.
“It’s great to be here in Dubai. To have this opportunity to race as the home team with our Emirates partnerships and to get to the grassroots and get more youngsters out on the water is a proud moment,” he said.
“You couldn’t ask for a more prestigious brand than Emirates and they have invested a lot into our team and in this event. If you look at their involvement with so many other sports, you have to say that they invest in sports and teams for the long run, and this is just the start for a long run in Dubai and hopefully having more youngsters out on the water here in Dubai and who knows, maybe a local team in the future.”