Skipper Jimmy Spithill has announced his departure from the United States SailGP Team, indicating the sale of the team.
Spithill didn’t reveal specifics of the sale, but did confirm that the new ownership group will bring in their own driver and CEO. This means that Spithill, who has driven for the U.S. team since Season 2, will no longer race with the American team, including at next month’s Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix.
He goes out on a high note, winning his last regatta at SailGP Portugal sailed in Cadiz, in mid October.
Reflecting on the news of an owner and skipper change, Spithill said it was a ‘great result for the U.S. team and SailGP’.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved on and off the water with the US Team. When I took over for Season 2, the team had just finished last overall in Season 1 and had no sponsors. I immediately took the team to the Grand Final, added multiple sponsors, and as a team we experienced multiple wins – including the last event in Spain.”
Spithill also announced his intention to ‘lead’ an Italian team into the Championship for Season 5. Spithill said he will lead the team with ‘a very talented Italian driver’ immediately following the completion of the Olympics and America’s Cup.
“I’ve competed in and for Italy – multiple times in my career, and the fans are the most passionate and loyal I’ve ever experienced. There is no doubt in my mind we will see a lot of interest in the team, a lot of amazing athletes and I look forward to releasing more details early next year,” he said.
More details on the sale of the United States SailGP Team will be announced in due course, says the report in SailGP.com.
According to the report in SailGP.com, Spithill’s tenure with the US team has already ended. That move will allow the twice-winner of the America’s Cup, to focus full-time on the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team, of which Spithill is a co-helmsman, as it enters the crucial period of its challenge for the America’s Cup – to be contested in October 2024. Other key members of the Italian America’s Cup team are expected to be involved in the 2024 Olympics in July-August 2024 at Marseille.
Taylor Canfield, a top match racing skipper, who has also sailed on the US F50 as a flight controller on several occasions, including last month’s win in Cadiz, has been widely tipped to come into the US team, under new ownership, as skipper. Canfield (34) a twice world match racing champion and five times winner of the prestigious Congressional Cup was skipper in the Stars + Stripes team which was a late challenger for the 2021 America’s Cup.
It would seem from Spithill’s comments that the Italian team entry will not enter the currently 13-regatta circuit until October 2024. While the Season 5 SailGP calendar has not been announced, best guess is that the new Italian team will make its first appearance in SailGP as the event swings through Europe on what is now a three event circuit in France, Italy and Portugal.
There has been no official update, other than a media report on prime-time TV news on Monday that negotiations were underway for the transfer of the cancelled Auckland SailGP, to Christchurch, with the negotiating points expected to centre around payment of an event fee by Christchurch, and environmental restrictions covering marine mammal protection.
When originally announced the Auckland and Christchurch events shared the cost of a reported $5million event fee, covering four regattas between 2023 and 2026. There is no indication as to whether Auckland will host the 2025 and 2026 events, or if Christchurch will be taking on financial and logistical responsibility for hosting all four regattas from 2023-2026.
Auckland Council has been adamant that it remains interested in hosting future SailGP regattas, however it has already part-spend the event fee allocated for SailGP on a rock band concert, and lacks the credibility to attract major international sailing events to what used to be the City of Sails.