SailGP in San Francisco

They’re here – SailGP’s F50s have arrived in San Francisco! On May 4th and 5th, sailing teams from the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and China will compete in a high-stakes, high-speed competition aboard the World’s fastest sailboats.

This will be the first SailGP race to take place in the United States and the second event of the five-part championship. Official races will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 4th and 5th from 12 – 2 pm. Racing will take place on the water in front of the Yacht Club Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay.

SailGP teams Great Britain and Australia on San Francisco Bay
Photo Credit: Pressure Drop

The World Fastest Foiling Yachts

The F50s are the World’s fastest foiling catamarans. “F” stands for foiling. “50” indicates the length of the catamaran – 50 feet. But it’s not just the foiling and the size of these boats that is impressive. It’s how fast they will go. The F50 engineers predict the boats will break the”50-knot barrier” – the sailing world’s equivalent to the sound barrier.

The core components of the SailGP F50s were sourced from the catamarans sailed in the 2017 America’s Cup. Post racing in Bermuda, the AC50 hulls and wingsails were stripped. After 100,000 hours of work they were put back together and transformed into completely different boats. The new cats are incredibly light for their size. Each boat has two sets of interchangeable light-air and heavy-air foils, rudders, and wingsails, making them prone to foiling and top speeds in any wind condition.

Team USA Practicing on San Francisco Bay Photo Credit: Pressure Drop

The reorganization of the cockpit on the F50 also makes for a faster sailboat. Originally, the AC50s had two grinding pedestals (typically used for charging hydraulics and trimming sails). One of these pedestals has been replaced. In its place is a lithium-ion battery used to provide a 5-hour charge for the hydraulic systems on the yachts. The use of a computerized system makes frequent tacks and gybes possible, eliminating the time it takes for the crew to manually charge the hydraulics. All controls for the wingsail, foil, and rudder have been made more accessible too. Newly implemented foot pedals, twist grips on the steering wheel and even a joystick replace typical sailboat controls and can be adjusted with the lightest touch. Take a full tour of Team Australia’s cockpit with helmsman Tom Slingsby below.

One Design Yacht Racing Puts Traditional Sailing Skills to the Test

SailGP levels the playing field for each competing nation by computerizing many of the components involved in sailing the yacht. Each boat is identical bringing the skill of the sailors on the boat to the forefront of the sailing arena. Wind and water conditions, boat speed and other data are constantly streamed back to the shore team to analyze and compare during and after races. Each SailGP team is made up of approximately 100 people with 5 core crew – professional sailors. The AC50s were allowed 6 professional sailors onboard during races. More One-Design Rules for SailGP yachts include:

  • Length overall is 15 meters
  • Beam (width): 8.8 meters (including appendages)
  • Wing Height: currently 24 meters, evolving to an 18m heavy air wing and a 28m light air wing
  • Crew: 5, consisting of a helmsman, wing-trimmer, flight controller and two grinders
  • Crew weight limit: 438 kilograms (average of 87.5 kg per sailor)
  • Onboard cameras: 3
  • Onboard microphones: 3
SAILGP Team China on San Francisco Bay. Photo Credit: Pressure Drop

Will you be watching SailGP this weekend? Learn more about the F50 catamaran, competing nations and viewing options at