The warm-up races for the 36th America’s Cup kicked off last week in Auckland, New Zealand, with barely a whimper despite Team New Zealand defending the cup it won in Bermuda in 2017 in the familiar surrounds of the Hauraki Gulf.
It’s already been labelled sailing on steroids and it’s now been confirmed that the world’s best will be tested in the inaugural SuperFoiler Grand Prix (SFGP).
Home-grown America’s Cup winner Glenn Ashby (Emirates Team New Zealand) has announced he will join forces with countrymen and fellow AC35 stars Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen – who spearheaded Artemis Racing in Bermuda – as the Australian crew to beat in the SFGP.
In sailing’s version of Twenty20 cricket yachts are replaced by machines which can fly through the water at speeds of 40 knots or upwards of 75km/h.
“It is an exciting beast,” Ashby said.
“The SuperFoiler looks to the future of our sport as the most innovative and exciting sail racing machine in the world today. Six of these boats hurtling around a two-kilometre course will make for thrilling sailing and spectating.”
The Australian sailor of the year will be joined by World champion and Olympic gold medallist Iain Jensen.
“I am keen to support a project that puts Australia back on the world map. Leading the way and pushing the limits,” Jensen said.
The chance to learn from his America’s Cup nemesis Glenn Ashby, another intriguing side plot.
“Last time I sailed against him it didn’t go so well for me. It will be great to have Glenn on my team.”
The salivating six machine line-up – which already boasts Olympic medallists, world champions and America’s Cup winners at the helm – underlines the momentum building for the nationwide competition.
“These machines reinvent sailing, and will bring a new audience to the sport,” SFGP CEO Bill Macartney said.
“Given the breakneck speeds they reach we need the world’s best sailors to control these beasts and there are none better on the world stage right now than these three supremely talented athletes.”
Round one of the five event series launches in Adelaide on the first weekend in February.
The SuperFoiler Grand Prix will be broadcast on the Seven Network.