SailGP looks beyond wind power to hit climate positive goal

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LONDON (Reuters) - SailGP aims to be climate positive when its “foiling” F50 catamarans begin their second season next year, in a move it hopes will speed up the electrification of the marine industry.

To reach this goal, SailGP said this week it will both drastically reduce its carbon output and invest in projects to eliminate more than any remaining emissions, including contributing to a scheme that involves planting mangroves.

“We have to take decisive and ground-breaking measures, leading by example not only in sailing but across the marine and sports industries,” SailGP Sustainability Director Susie Tomson said of setting a goal beyond a zero carbon footprint.

While SailGP’s catamarans, which in their first season hit speeds of more than 50 knots (92 kilometres per hour), are driven entirely by the wind, its support boats use fossil fuels.

SailGP, which is backed by Oracle founder Larry Ellison, said it will switch 11 boats to electric motors and find a way to use electricity for its high-speed “chase boats”.

“The overall goal is to have a fully electric support boat fleet by 2025 – removing the equivalent of 175 cars from the road – and helping to lead a clean energy revolution in the marine industry,” SailGP’s organisers said in a statement.

Onshore, SailGP said it will move to 100% renewable power by 2025, with its events around the globe supplied by generators using clean fuel and the batteries used during racing recharged using clean energy, building on a Tesla partnership.

SailGP is also creating a start-up investment fund which will develop, test and bring to market sustainable innovations that can be applied beyond the marine industry.

Its first project will be with E1, the electric powerboat series launched last month by Formula E and Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag, with SailGP developing the initial race boat concept.

Editing by Christian Radnedge