This weekend I discovered a whole new sport – and a great way to recreate the feeling of being on a cruise ship.
Our Saturday afternoon was spent watching the SailGP – the grand prix of fast cat sailing and a global phenomena – on board Captain Cook’s Sydney2000. And it was a revelation.
SailGP catamarans can fly across the water at 96 kph in an amazing adrenaline-fuelled racing spectacular that ended in an Aussie victory and a spectacular crash in which the British team had to hand over their hull to the Japanese, who promptly rebuilt their boat and sailed on!
It was two days of pure sport with teams from eight nations vying for a million-dollar purse astride the world’s fastest sail boat, the F50.
They are seriously fast, and rise up on hydrofoils and dagger boars to create unheard of speed while their crew use grinder-winches to move the sails in line with the wind. As they passed the Sydney2000 you cold hear the grinders whirring and the sails and rigging whistling. Everyone on board was cheering, creating a terrific atmosphere easily as exhilarating as Royal Randwick.
Strategy is all as the teams battle to steal each other’s wind and position.
Captain Cook had two boats for spectators – both sold well and offered fabulous viewing positions – so good, in fact, that we were able to bellow encouragement to Aussie Skipper and America’s Cup tactician Tom Slingsby and his four-person crew as they sailed to victory.
And while they worked hard for their place in the American finals in 2022, we…well…lunched. And jolly good it was too!
In fact, so like a cruise that we’ve booked gain while the government sorts out Australia’s cruise ship muddle.
How does SailGP work?
Events take place across two days, with six races scheduled for each Sail Grand Prix; five fleet races and The Final.
The five fleet races involve all eight teams, with points awarded to each team relating to their finishing position. SailGP fleet races last approximately 15 minutes each – so no boring bits.
The last race is The Final – in which the three highest ranked teams in the event leaderboard face off to be crowned event champions.
In this case, Australia, Spain and the United States with Australia the clear winner and in best place for the prize in March in America.
“Right now, the championship is Tommy’s to lose,” says Jimmy Spithill, driver of the American entry who will race on home waters in San Francisco in March.
“It’s great for us to be an underdog coming into San Francisco…trust me. That’s the great thing about sport; the favourites don’t always win.”
SailGP’s purpose is to demonstrate that clean energy – in this case wind – doesn’t have to be boring and be every bit as exciting a sports from powered vehicles.
They certain showed that on Sydney Harbour this weekend.
The race will be back and Captain Cook will be supporting it – but no-one knows quite when.
Meanwhile Captain Cook has a great program of summer events, including:
New Year’s Eve
January 2: Elevate – An Australian first, ELEVATE SkyShow will feature 500 choreographed drones over the natural ampitheatre of Sydney Cove, and combine with Sydney’s most iconic landmarks to create a dazzling light display.
Australia Day on January 26 – all the amazing spectacles of this special day, from ferrython to fly past.
Vivid Sydney on May 27 – June 18 – a kaleidoscope of light reflecting off the water in every direction.