SailGP has consistently pushed the boundaries of the possible since it was first launched by Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts back in 2018. And despite a COVID-enforced hiatus in 2020, the momentum built by sailing’s most ambitious series continues to build. The 2022/23 season has been as dramatic as ever, as has the progress made by the competition away from the shoreline.
Sustainability has become a central pillar of SailGP – setting a shining example, not just to the world of sailing, but to the sport’s industry at large. In the aftermath of COP27 and the ongoing battle to deliver a more sustainable future, SailGP has been a shining beacon of just what is possible.
Thomas Lyte has been involved in the SailGP since its conception, designing and making a trophy that is as breath-taking and forward-thinking as the action on the water.
The conclusion of the 2022/23 season will take place in Singapore in early January, with the most recent event Dubai setting up a thrilling finish. Table-toppers Australia will face off against New Zealand, Great Britain and France for the title. But that’s only part of the story.
The progress made by the competing teams is mirrored by the giant leaps achieved in turning SailGP into one of the greenest and most equitable contests in sport. The event’s promises on sustainability aren’t just words. These aims are actually integrated into the way the competition operates, with the SailGP Impact League running concurrently alongside the eight-team sailing leaderboard.
The teams involved are ranked according to the positive steps they’ve taken and continue to take, to mitigate their carbon footprint and accelerate inclusivity in sailing.
The action taken by SailGP is particularly significant, given the threat to some of the event’s low-lying coastal venues – some of which are at huge risk if sea levels rise by their projected level of 0.5m by 2050.
Sir Ben Ainslie continued: “If we don’t act now, all the amazing sport that gives us such joy, from the grassroots all the way to the top of the professional game, is under threat from the impact of climate change. I would like to see many more sports follow SailGP’s example and make sustainability not just a commitment, but a fundamental part of the fabric of sport.”
Niclas Svenningsen, manager of Global Climate Action at UN Climate Change, UNFCCC said: “Many of the activities that bring us so much joy in our day-to-day lives are under threat from our changing climate.
“Sport is no exception, in-fact it is one of the areas set to be worst affected. The Impact League is an innovative and inspiring solution-orientated approach from SailGP to deliver meaningful change and re-define what winning means in sport. I would welcome other sports to follow suit and establish impact leagues of their own to help sport be that platform for real change.”
By taking the lead, the event is setting the pace, on and off the water. In terms of inclusivity, it has also left the pack standing too. Since the Spain SailGP in Season 2, all teams have raced with a female athlete on board in both four and six person crew configurations. In addition, teams are also required to hold selection camps to help identify female athletes who can join crews in the future.
The values that are integral to SailGP are very much shared here at Thomas Lyte, which is why we’re proud to have worked so closely with the organisers to create a trophy that befits the scale and ambition of this ground-breaking series.
As sport attempts to forge a greener future, SailGP is riding the crest of a wave. Thomas Lyte has been with them for every step of that voyage.
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