Until recently, watching a yacht race has been about as exciting as watching paint dry. The new SailGP racing series, taking place in San Francisco Bay this weekend, is on a mission to change that. Teams from six nations will face off against one another, in hydro-foiling catamarans, in pursuit of a $1 million prize. In order to make the racing more competitive, the masterminds behind SailGP have not only ensured that all the boats are identical, but they have also made it mandatory for teams to share the performance data collected by the hundreds of sensors aboard each boat.
The result is that any team can download their competitors data and instantly analyze and emulate their techniques. In high-performance yachts like these, even the smallest changes in technique, can have a massive impact on performance. Leading teams are now forced to work harder in order to find a new competitive edge while trailing teams are busy pouring over the data, ready to leapfrog ahead their competitors.
The question heading into the second event of the SailGP series, in San Francisco, is whether an upset is in-store? Will the American team, lead by new helmsman Rome Kirby, be able to challenge Team Australia, currently the leader? Stay tuned to the racing this weekend to find out.