Ellison and Coutts launch new global sailing league SailGP

American software tycoon Larry Ellison, who bankrolled Oracle Team USA twice to America’s Cup glory, and legendary former sailor Sir Russell Coutts have announced a new global racing league called SailGP.

Teams from the United States, Australia, Great Britain, France, Japan and China will compete starting in 2019 in identical foiling 50-foot catamarans.

The series will run from February to September, starting in Sydney followed by regattas in San Francisco, New York, Cowes and a finale in Marseille. Five-person crews will compete for a $1m prize in an event sanctioned by World Sailing.

SailGP is not intended to compete directly with the America’s Cup but its aim is to offer a more commercially viable alternative. It’s estimated that Ellison spent roughly $750m during five America’s Cup campaigns while a SailGP team is expected to cost $5m a year to run.

Boats will be supplied to teams with a “centralised design team” providing upgrades. “This ensures close racing, and that the costs are kept down,” Coutts told AP. “This isn’t a tech arms race, rather the ultimate test to establish the best sailing team in advanced foiling catamarans.”

Oracle, Land Rover and Louis Vuitton – all of whom have had significant involvement with the America’s Cup – are founding partners of SailGP.