Sam Newton, Director of SailSolutions, Australia’s Rolly Tasker Sails’ distributor since 2001, was a key member of the Australian team that won the inaugural 2019 SailGP championship that concluded in Marseille last weekend after world wide series with lead up events in Sydney, New York, San Francisco and Cowes.
SailGP, a new sailing format built around cutting-edge technology and awe-inspiring athleticism, is the brain child of Sir Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison who created the Oracle Americas Cup team for which Sam competed in the last two Cups. It is raced in some of the world’s most iconic waters with each team representing their own nation and battling it out in identical supercharged F50 foiling catamarans with aeronautical style wings instead of a mainsail, engineered for intense racing at speeds exceeding 50 knots (nearly 60 mph/100 kph). Each boat races with 5 crew, a skipper, a wing trimmer, two grinders and a flight controller whose key job is to manage the complex task of keeping the boat on its foils throughout the race to optimise speed and manoeuvrability.
For the inaugural 2019 season entrants came from Australia, the USA, France, China, the UK and Japan. Sam’s Australian team dominated the series winning four of the five two-day events and earning themselves a ‘ticket’ to the Grand Final; a 10-minute winner takes all match race against team Japan. After a tense race, analysis showed that the final duel at the wing mark came down to a gap of just 78cm between the two 15-metre-long boats while they were doing over 30 knots. If the Australians had been just five-hundredths of a second slower, Japan could have forced them to incur a penalty but it wasn’t to be with the Aussies winning the USD$1M and naming rights as the first ever winner of this new championship.