May 4, 2022
By John Morris
Fleet foiling at 40knts – what’s not to like. And now we are in it! Photo: SailGP
These are glorious days to be a sailing addict in Canada. The National/Olympic Team is soaring and getting better all the time. Club and regional racing is back in gear with big regattas including NAs scheduled in places from Vancouver to Kingston to Chester, NS.
But best of all, the Canada SailGP Team has emerged.
Yes, for a couple of years, Sail GP has been grabbing our attention as the hottest sail racing on the planet eclipsing even the top series like TP 52s, the Ocean Race and (dare we say it?) even the America’s Cup. Nine international teams representing nine nations in spectacular competition. No Canadians; still not to be missed.
But now all our flashing lights and bells are going off as after all the prep, team selection and investment, a Canadian team, SailGP’s tenth, will hit the SailGP starting line in Bermuda this Saturday, May 14.
Where did CAN Sail GP come from?
The originator of Canada’s SailGP entry, entrepreneur Fred Pye, has put a team of investors and a top team of sailors together to inspire Canadians and take on the world’s best. Sailing in Canada zoomed with Fred last Sunday to preview the team’s first race. Photo: CANSailGP
Credit for the initiative goes to the sailor who has made it happen, Montreal’s Fred Pye. Pye bought a franchise, built a team, signed up a professional crew and now the plan is coming together as the gun fires for Race One of Season Three of SailGP.
How did all this happen? Fred Pye makes it sound pretty straight forward. He grew up varnishing his dad’s FJ at Pointe Claire YC, raced and taught on Lake St Louis, did some bigger regattas like the 1986 J24 Worlds.
More recently, the SailGP Inspire programme really clicked for Fred and he wanted to get something along those lines going in Canada, so he started by buying three WASZPS for the Pointe Claire YC programme. That Programme has since been jacked to eight WASZPs and sailing schools across the country.
The next step, much simplified, is that while the Pye family was enjoying their new Oyster 57.5 in Europe, Fred checked out Sail GP events in Plymouth, St Tropez, and Cadiz. There he saw the excitement firsthand and became familiar with about the sailing and impact goals of SailGP. They met with motorsport enthusiasts Ron Dennis (McLaren) and Dave Richards (BAR Racing) who said that buying their racing teams was the best thing they had ever done. Pye purchased the tenth franchise (and last) in the league and has now built a team to campaign it.
There’s considerably more to this than the boat races, although clearly that’s the top of the pyramid. The We CAN Inspire program aims at building foiling sailing foiling and support Canada’s Olympic aspirations, which Pye anticipates will soon be increasingly fought in foiling boats. More than just encouragement, SailGP will direct its profits to performance athletes.
The Sail GP Impact League, Introduced for SailGP Season 2, tracks the positive actions teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing. A second leaderboard, which runs alongside the Season Championship, has been created to monitor the performance of our teams in the Impact League, with each team’s score at each SailGP event being added to the overall Impact League leaderboard.
At the end of the season there will be two podiums, with the winner of the Impact League crowned alongside the Season Champion and earning funding for its purpose partner, who supports and advises them throughout the season and is visible on the team’s livery. Impact League criteria range from pioneering new technologies focusing on clean energy solutions and removing all single-use plastics, to diversity and inclusion and using the team’s voice for good.
Canada’s own F50 is currently being built and will debut in August
There’s definitely a lot going on. The real excitement starts on May 14 when CAN SailGP crosses the start line at 30, 40 or even 50 knots (Great Britain SailGP’s F50 hit 51.1 at last year’s Bermuda event). The following month is the United States SGP in Chicago. At August’s Denmark event, the brand new Canadian F50 splashes. Until then, CAN SailGP will run a loaner, but never fear – the boats are equal – all the F50s are identical, designed and built in NZ and fitted with full shared telemetrics so everyone sees every performance detail.
Here’s a link to the full Season 3 calendar. How will Canada fare in its debut? Fred Pye is confident but realistic, “We start at mid pack… the challenge is to get to the top!
Sailing in Canada will have the results of CANSailGP’s first race in our next issue on May 18!! Don’t miss it. You can subscribe for your free delivery HERE.