New SailGP Ownership Group Brings Celebrity Firepower To Fast Growing Professional Sports League

I’ve loved the SailGP’s special brand of racing from the moment Oracle founder Larry Ellison and legendary America’s Cup sailor Russel Coutts launched the league to bring the excitement of Formula 1 racing to professional sailboat racing four years ago. But I’m a life-long sailor who loves Formula 1. Of course I’m going to love a professional racing league that pits many of the world’s best sailors racing aboard hydrofiling raceboats against each other!

And now that SailGP’s United States team has just been purchased by tech investor and founding Uber engineer Ryan McKillen, Margaret McKillen, and two-time world champion sailor Mike Buckley, it’s obvious that the league’s special brand of excitement, competition and environmental consciousness is attracting much bigger audiences.

But I’m not surprised. SailGP’s identical 50-foot-long hydrofoiling catamarans literally “fly” over the water at speeds that can hit over 50 MPH. The racing is incredibly close and each event is broadcast in over 200+ markets (CBS and YouTube in the U.S.).

SailGP is hot and getting hotter. And so is the American market.

Under the new U.S. SailGP Team structure, Ryan McKillen will serve as Chairman, and Mike Buckley as Chief Executive Officer. The team has appointed seven-time world champion sailor Taylor Canfield as team driver. And the cool thing is they’re joined by a diverse group of investors representing the sport, technology, entertainment, and media industries.

The Avenue Sports Fund, led by Avenue Capital Group CEO Marc Lasry is the lead investor in what will be the largest team acquisition in SailGP history. Other members of the investment group include actress and producer Issa Rae; world champion heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder; global DJ and producer Gryffin; and NFL stars DeAndre Hopkins, Malik Jackson, Roquan Smith and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Additional members include University of Alabama football star Dallas Turner; former U.S. soccer player Jozy Altidore; University of Michigan basketball legend Katelynn Flaherty Yates; Muse Capital’s Assia Grazioli-Venier; and serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk.

“By bringing together this remarkable group to acquire the United States SailGP Team, we have reached an important milestone in the growth of our sport,” said Ryan McKillen, U.S. SailGP Team Co-owner, and Chairman. “As sailors, we love this sport and want to introduce it to millions; as entrepreneurs, we recognize the potential and growth trajectory of SailGP and how our U.S. SailGP Team can introduce the future of on-water racing at the highest level. Our incredible ownership group is a testament to the growth and expansion of SailGP into the mainstream.”

“We believe that diversity is a competitive advantage, and it needs to start at the top,” said Mike Buckley, U.S. SailGP Team Co-owner and CEO. “We have assembled the most diverse ownership group in the history of our sport. Collectively, we have an enormous amount of work to do on and off the water, but I think that I have shown I am not going to back down from this important challenge.”

“The investment by the Avenue Sports Fund in the U.S. SailGP Team is a perfect fit for our strategy of supporting emerging sports and leagues to capitalize on the globalization of sports and related areas of potential rapid growth,” said Marc Lasry, Avenue Capital Group Chairman and CEO. “We are thrilled to join Ryan, Margaret, Mike and the broader investor group as the U.S. SailGP Team competes on an exciting global stage.”

No wonder U.S. SailGP Team partners Red Bull, T-Mobile for Business, and Zhik, have reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S. SailGP Team, working with the team and league to cater to a growing fanbase and deliver premium event experiences.

“This is a momentous day not only for the league, but also for the sport as a whole,” said SailGP CEO, league co-founder Russell Coutts. “We have talked about this season being our breakthrough season and it really feels like this is coming to fruition. We have increased the number of events in the U.S.. Seen industry-leading figures for our CBS broadcast and now made history with the biggest deal in the sport of sailing. We welcome Ryan, Margaret, Mike, Taylor, and our new investors to the league and wish them every success for the future.”

U.S. SailGP Team debuts at the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, December 9-10. The league returns to North America in spring 2024, with events including the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix (May 4-5) and the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix in Halifax (June 1-2).

The first chance for the U.S. SailGP Team to race in front of its American fans will be in New York, June 22-23 at the Mubadala New York Sail Grand Prix; followed by the SailGP Season 4 Grand Final in San Francisco on July 13-14.

Watch this space.

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