Exclusive: SailGP Striving For Sustainability
ailGP recently announced the launch of the Impact League, a competition designed to mitigate the effects of climate change encouraging the eight international teams to proactively be sustainable.
As part of SailGP’s second season across 2021 and 2022, the organiser has created a second leaderboard for teams to be rewarded for positive actions to reduce their carbon footprint and accelerate inclusivity in sailing.
Speaking to Ministry of Sport SailGP Team Australia CEO, Tom Slingsby, discussed the focus of the Impact League and how sailing hopes to be an innovator for all sports.
“SailGP are trying to be a leader in sustainability and sustainable sport practices and we’re the perfect platform with our boats being powered by wind,” Slingsby told Ministry of Sport.
“They thought, ‘we’ve got batteries on board, how can we make this sustainable also’, so they got all solar energy to power the batteries and charge them in our charging stations.
“Then we realised we really can be a leader in sport and sustainability and that set off an idea to create the Impact League.
“Not only are we racing on the water for points, but we are also trying to create a difference in the best way each team can.
“As much as we’re practicing on the water, we’re coming up with different ways of how we can better create sustainable practices, how do we get plastics off the boats or around the bases and different things we can do to create a cleaner, better future,” he said.
On the efforts of the Australian team through two events of the Impact League, Slingsby said: “Making a competition out of it is a bit different, but SailGP realised we’ve got a lot of competitive people in all these teams, if we turn sustainability into a competition, it can only be a good thing.”
“I’m not happy we’re in fifth place after two events, I think we should be higher, I’m looking at the judging criteria saying ‘how are we not higher than these guys on that’, so the competition is creating a healthy rivalry for us to push further and get better,” he said.
As part of the new Impact League, the Australian SailGP Team has partnered with Parley for the Oceans as its official race for the future partner with the hope of raising awareness of issues faced by the ocean.
On the issues faced by the ocean and how SailGP hopes to address climate change, Slingsby said it was important to partner with a sustainable organisation committed to creating change.
“We’re trying to be a leader on the water for sure, when this league came out and we needed to partner with a charitable, sustainable organisation, they asked each CEO who we would like to go with,” Slingsby said.
“I said I’ve grown up on the water and been on the water every day of my life and plastic in the ocean is something that drives me insane, it seems to be getting worse and worse.
“It makes us unique that we’re on the water and about the oceans more, sure we’re trying to be sustainable in every aspect, but what’s unique to us is that everyday we’re on the water and see the effects.
“We hope we can spread this across every water sport, fishing, surfing, skiing, any type of water sport.
“We’ve got to hope other sports pick this up and realise they can do a better job.
“Sport is a leader and a real influencer of the world, so many people watch different sports, and it can be really impactful, so hopefully we start the trend with other sports.
“Even if they don’t focus on it at our level, every little bit counts,” he said.
Talking about the role brands have to play in supporting sustainability in sport, Slingsby said: “Sustainability is a huge factor now for companies looking to partner with people and there’s a huge push at the moment.”
“If you’re considering it, you open the door to so many more pathways.
“Adidas now are trying to be a sustainable footwear brand, and I can guarantee if you’re not a sustainable company and you’re looking for a partnership with Adidas, it won’t happen.
“Having a clean company opens so many more doors,” Slingsby told Ministry of Sport.