Above Photo Credit: Felix Diemer for SailGP
As the first Sail Grand Prix event to grace Canadian shores gears up for its event in Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 1–2, 2024, plans are getting underway to figure out the finer details of the event.
Sail Grand Prix, commonly known as SailGP, is an international competition where competitors from 10 countries race aboard F50 foiling catamarans, which can hit top speeds of over 100 kilometres per hour. SailGP races have been hosted all over the world in countries like Australia, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and the United States. SailGP is also the most-watched sailing event in the world, boasting a dedicated audience of over 117 million people worldwide.
Halifax was one of six Canadian cities that applied to host the Canadian SailGP event, winning out over larger centres like Montreal and Victoria. The Nova Scotian capital is especially fitting, as four of the Canadian team — Jareese Finch, Billy Gooderham, Tim Hornsby and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance — call the region home.
“We had a very impressive and cohesive proposal that came from the mayor’s office, to tourism, to the Dartmouth Business Association and Halifax Business Association. There was a big commitment from all parties that came together, and I think it was the combination of all these different stakeholders coming together and saying, ‘Hey, this is perfect for where we want to race.’ Obviously having a Canadian team, it was really important for them to have a Canadian event, as well,” said Jennifer Hall, Head of Marketing and Events for SailGP Canada.
As the date for SailGP’s Canadian debut looms ever closer, those on the ground in Halifax are excited about the publicity an event of this magnitude could bring to the city.
“Myself and my co-chair, John Fleming, have been inundated with people that want to help and volunteer, and I’m not sure if SailGP gets that in every city that they go to,” Paula Minnikin, Co-Chair of the steering group overseeing SailGP on behalf of Sail Nova Scotia. “Everyone is on board. The excitement is palpable. I can barely walk down the street without people asking, ‘What’s happening? When is it happening?’ and the next question right away is, ‘How can I help?’”
While the details of the events in Halifax around the race are still being ironed out, some are set in stone. On May 23, an opening gala will be hosted at the Halifax Pavilion.
“That event will feature some interesting opportunities for local sailors to learn more about foiling. It will also be a fundraiser to help various sailing programs in Nova Scotia,” said Minnikin.
SailGP also features a component called Inspire Careers and Inspire Racing, which seeks to educate youth about foiling craft they use in SailGP races.
“It’s really about how we get kids and youth out there foiling and trying their hand at what they’re going to see with the F50s,” said Hall. “The other aspect is Inspire Careers, which is basically a work placement program for 25 local kids to get involved in working with the team, the broadcast, the shore crew or the wing team. There’s a lot of opportunity for youth to engage.”
For those on land, Hall said the spectators won’t have a hard time seeing the action as the races get underway. While the logistics of seating and tickets for the event are still being ironed out, she is sure there will be space for anyone in Halifax to take part in this unique event.
“One of the cool things about the waterfront is that you’re going to be able to see this racing with 10 teams going up and down the harbour at 100 kilometres an hour — you’re going to see this from pretty much anywhere,” said Hall.