Sail GP: New rating based on teams’ environmental impact

The Impact League may be redefining the concept of performance in major competitions. To be the fastest and most technical, yes, but is it also possible to be the most virtuous? “This feat is just as important as the way it was carried out,” explains France’s Sail GP team operating director, Thibaut Laudren, just hours before the departure of the big F50 boat in Plymouth.

After several meetings, it is clear that the eight sailors who will make up the team are well rooted in the navigation strategy that must be adopted as soon as the starting signal is given, but they are also aware of all the actions they will focus on. The event so that the race is as environmentally friendly as possible. Such an approach is unprecedented.

This particularity has been in the testing phase since the start of the international Sail GP circuit, from the first race leaving Bermuda in April 2021, and was also applied to the Taranto Golf Course during the Italian Grand Prix last May. But this time things get serious, professional practice is over, and this Saturday’s Regatta in Plymouth will be races in itself with their own scoring system and classification including the environment.

The eight nations competing for the tournament, namely New Zealand, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, France, the United States and Japan, will be evaluated on 10 specific criteria, with a maximum score of 200 points.

Less Plastic, Less CO2 Emissions

“For example for the France team, one of the goals of the weekend is to eat half the meat,” continues Thibaut Lodren. Just like on-board meals, an important parameter that can change the situation is fuel consumption “on the water”, which is quite high during competition days. There are about forty steamboats permanently on the water to provide technical assistance and teams of referees and coaches in the regattas. These are basic conditions, but they account for 50% of a team’s carbon emissions during major events. This is why new technologies are welcome.

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“We are thinking of a remote refereeing system, using onboard cameras where referees can apply a penalty without being present,” continues the French Knights’ operational director.

Among the other eight criteria that will be subject to external review by an English company at the end of the race, also specify: plastic use, waste management, logistics and diversity on board.

The French captain must find their marks

It’s a chance to glide over the amazing water points, if only if they aren’t completely polluted. Billy Besson, Coxswin of Team France, still remembers the adventure he experienced during the 2016 Rio Games: “The oil pellets were stuck on the trampoline of the boat. As an athlete who spends nearly 200 days at sea, I am well aware of the environmental damage. So Here, within practice, it must change.”

However, reconciling sporting prowess with gestures in favor of the climate appears difficult for the French, who finished sixth in the Impact League standings in the two test races. With things that are no longer applicable. But we do not hesitate to adapt, on the contrary, the crew is gradually building up. It is all a matter of time.” In the first two trials, the New Zealanders came out on top.

The International Circuit will run for six races towards the end of the season in San Francisco in March 2022. Impact League organizers hope to have a soundboard at all levels, whether in lesser-known competitions, Olympic events, within sailing clubs or for the occasional simple watersports enthusiast. .

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