Is Sailing the new F1? – Help us showcase our sport to the world

James CloseAmerica's Cup, Ben Ainslie Racing, James, Thoughts

Is Sailing the new F1?

Ben Ainslie Racing and his test boat for the America’s Cup, featuring the latest sailing technology.

The pinnacle of advanced technological sport – could sailing be the new F1?

A sailing revolution is in progress! It’s one that could bring our sport to the attention of the mainstream media and hopefully bring with it a new audience. Sailing is attracting the worlds best creative engineers and designers as it is a technical sport that still has so many discoveries to be made. We have been slow to showcase how different sailing is from the pervasive negative stereotypes of elitist gin palaces created for the privileged few. If we can shatter this incorrect assumption then sailing could break through into the mainstream. Is sailing the new F1?

Look backward to see forward

The foils and wing sails we are now seeing on cutting edge boats are still in the early stages of development, a new technology to experiment with, that is resulting in giant leaps forward regarding what is possible. Aerospace has not seen anything truly revolutionary since the 60’s, just smaller and smaller incremental improvements. We still think of Concorde, the SR-71 Blackbird and the B2 flying wing as being the pinnacle of aircraft design – the limit of what is possible – but they are over 50 years old. In the sporting world we think of the cutting edge as being in fields such as motor-sport and F1 in particular. But because of the extreme advancements that have been made, F1 is getting more restrictive to limit the technology, the cars are now slower than they were 10 years ago which is causing fans to feel frustrated.

Sailing is a rich area for development and will become even more attractive to technological companies and sponsors alike, after all it’s cutting edge engineering and it’s also wind powered. But could sailing be the new F1?

Aero technology

The B2 flying wing is still one of the most revolutionary aeroplane shapes, it was developed in the 1960’s.

SR71 Blackbird

The SR-71 Blackbird is the worlds fastest aeroplane. The design is over 50 years old and has now been retired from service. No plane today has the same capability in terms of performance.

Where we are today

Sailing doesn’t have the mainstream appeal of F1 at the moment, but it does have a global reach, it is a sport that travels to all four corners of the world. Highly competitive, giant leaps in innovation on display, huge sponsorship surface area, sexy machines, stunning scenery combined with wilderness, exploration and adventure. Once the F1 audience, the air show audience (biggest spectator events in UK) and the general public realise that this sport and these amazing machines exist, and that sailing is not just rich toff’s floating around at snails pace in yachts, we could have a sailing boom on our hands as more people want to understand what it is about. This will open up more opportunities to sail, more types of boat to buy, more punters to sell boats to, more discoveries to be made, and more people joining sailing clubs.

These are exciting times but we must all help tell the story if we are to increase sailing’s appeal and showcase the true potential of the sport we love. We’ll dig a little deeper into the subject in the other articles in this series but to whet your appetite take a look at some of the links below.

In Part Two we explore a bit more about the history of sailing developments that led to this point.


Americas Cup, Pushing the limits and breaking new ground.

Vendee Globe, Testing designs to the limit in the hardest race – around the world.

Extreme Sailing Series, Stadium sailing on GC32 Foiling Cats

SuperFoiler race series The 18ft Skiff style race series, now being re-invented in association with channel 7, Australia.

Superfoiler Promotional video