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Making waves

SailGP's Record-Breaking U.S. Team Sale and the Surge of High-Adrenaline Sailing

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By — Front Office Sports
Posted — January 30, 2024

If you haven't yet caught wind of SailGP, now's the time to tune in.

Founded in 2018 by five-time America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts and billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, SailGP is a leading competitive sail racing league, featuring world-class athletes and thrilling races at iconic global venues.

Each SailGP race is a display of skill and strategy, with 10 national teams piloting their identical, high-tech foiling F50 catamaran boats at 60+ mph in close-to-shore, tight race courses that guarantee fan excitement through close calls, incredible athleticism and competitive racing. 

By bringing together this remarkable group to acquire the U.S. SailGP Team, we have reached an important milestone in the growth of our sport…”
Ryan McKillen

In just four seasons, SailGP has more than doubled the number of events at iconic locations around the world – from Saint-Tropez to Sydney – placing a particular emphasis on the burgeoning U.S. market, now hosted in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.

But on November 29, 2023 SailGP launched its biggest news yet – the record-breaking acquisition of its U.S. team by technology investor and founding Uber engineer Ryan McKillen, Margaret McKillen, and two-time world champion sailor Mike Buckley.

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They are joined by The Avenue Sports Fund, directed by Avenue Capital Group's chief executive Marc Lasry, to head up the largest team sale in SailGP's history, with other investors including Emmy-nominated actress and producer Issa Rae, legendary heavyweight prizefighter Deontay Wilder, internationally acclaimed DJ/music producer Gryffin, NFL all-stars DeAndre Hopkins, Malik Jackson, Roquan Smith and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Additional investors include University of Alabama football star Dallas Turner, former U.S. soccer player Jozy Altidore, University of Michigan basketball legend Katelynn Flaherty Yates, Muse Capital’s Assia Grazioli-Venier, and serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.

“By bringing together this remarkable group to acquire the U.S. SailGP Team, we have reached an important milestone in the growth of our sport,” said Ryan McKillen, U.S. SailGP Team Co-owner and Chairman. “As sailors, we love this sport and want to introduce it to millions; as entrepreneurs, we recognize the potential and growth trajectory of SailGP and how our U.S. SailGP Team can introduce the future of on-water racing at the highest level.”

“… as entrepreneurs, we recognize the potential and growth trajectory of SailGP and how our U.S. SailGP Team can introduce the future of on-water racing at the highest level.”- Ryan McKillen

The new squad debuted in Dubai in December where they finished third in the final race and eighth overall, showcasing their potential to match up against the best in the world. Building on this momentum, the U.S. SailGP Team continues racing this winter in the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, then returns to the northern hemisphere with Bermuda, Canada, and then New York in June 2024.

Season 3 marked a meteoric rise in the league’s broadcast audience, now covered in 212 territories (CBS and CBSSN in the U.S.), tripling that of the previous season to surpass 119 million viewers. Most recently, a November 2023 CBS broadcast drew in 1.8 million viewers, surpassing ratings for mainstream sports like F1 and MLS. Racing on the Edge – SailGP’s behind-the-scenes docuseries – has been watched by over 2.1 million viewers since its creation with a watch time increase of 871% this season.

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In just four seasons, SailGP has more than doubled the number of events at iconic locations around the world – from Saint-Tropez to Sydney – placing a particular emphasis on the burgeoning U.S. market, now hosted in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.

Fueled by a world-class ownership group, talented new teams, and securing prime visibility in New York this June, SailGP signals the ambition and readiness of the young league for the global stage. This presents ripe opportunities for generational brands to join key existing sponsors like Rolex, Red Bull and T-Mobile for Business, offering SailGP significantly increased public visibility through additional high-profile sponsorships.

Tickets go on sale January 30th for the Mubadala New York Sail Grand Prix on June 22-23, which will be the first time the newly purchased U.S. SailGP Team competes before its home crowd.

Learn more about SailGP and purchase tickets here.

Learn more about SailGP today.

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