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SailGP shifts second season to 2021

Team USA, Team Spain and Team Australia compete during SailGP on Sydney Harbour on February 29, 2020 (by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

The SailGP sailing series has postponed its second season to 2021 amid Covid-19, voiding the one event that has been held to date.

Two of the four impacted events on the 2020 calendar have been handed new dates for 2021 – San Francisco on April 17-18 and New York on June 4-5. SailGP said it also intends to return to the UK and Denmark during the rescheduled Season 2, replacing racing previously planned for August 14-15 and September 11-12 of this year.

Season 2 is set to be expanded from five to a minimum of seven events during the year-long period beginning in April 2021, running through to the early months of 2022. Results from the 2020 Sydney SailGP, which took place in February as the first and only completed event of the year, have been declared null and void.

SailGP chief executive Sir Russell Coutts said: “The global nature of our league is one of our strongest characteristics, as we bring together top talent from all over the world to both organise and compete in a new form of professional racing. As we face this health emergency, our geographic diversity unfortunately becomes a potential liability both to ourselves and those around us.

“Our focus must necessarily shift to returning at a time when our events do not present undue internal or external risk. We’ll use the coming months to focus on important initiatives to make both our racing and broadcast even more attractive – including through further development of our F50 catamarans, simulator and gaming platform, as well as enhanced data integration via artificial intelligence – while continuing to work toward our ambitious target of carbon neutrality by 2025.

“I’m confident that our rescheduled second season will go beyond what we would have been able to deliver this year, and we’re extremely fortunate to have the ongoing support of partners including Rolex, Oracle, Rockwool and our many broadcasters to help us get there.”

In a bid to protect the SailGP organisation throughout this period, Coutts has temporarily forfeited his salary in its entirety, while remaining employees have voluntarily taken salary reductions effective through the end of the year. SailGP said the overall workforce has been “tapered proportional” to the current modified requirements, while contracted athletes are being compensated for more than 50 per cent of the planned season activity.

In the months leading up to the 2020 start of Season 2, the league added national teams from Denmark and Spain, signed team title partners Ineos and Rockwool, announced a new event in Copenhagen, and brought on Endeavor as a minority shareholder.

Coutts added: “We’ve created a lot of growth and momentum from our first six events, and are 100 per cent committed to becoming a leading rights holder and advancing the sport in a way that has never been done before. We’ll prioritise innovative improvements during this interim period, and then refocus on live events in early 2021.”