SailGP – in partnership with Virtual Regatta and World Sailing, the world governing body of the sport – entered the esports arena with the launch of eSailGP. A global gaming experience, eSailGP offers an accessible platform for sailors and non-sailors alike to experience the thrill of the world’s fastest sail racing in a virtual environment.
The eF50s are a digital representation of SailGP’s catamarans that made history in August by crossing the 50-knot barrier – something never previously accomplished in sail racing. Virtually, the eF50s will match the look and performance of the real vessel, capable of breakneck speeds in the 50-knot range (60 mph/100 kph) on courses mirroring those used in SailGP.
“Our vision for SailGP is to bring sailing to the masses, and by entering the virtual realm, we’re now offering our brand of high-flying action to anyone willing to take on the challenge of piloting a boat at unprecedented speeds,” said SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts. “Esports are no longer the future, but rather the now, which is why we made it an immediate priority to engage this potentially massive audience. We hope both existing gamers and those new to esports will enjoy the unique combination of sport, nature, strategy and technology that sailing provides – both physically and virtually.”
eSailGP is integrated into Virtual Regatta Inshore, and is now available to fans globally. Virtual Regatta is the largest sailing community in the world with more than 1.6 million players. In the virtual sphere, SailGP races are 5-6 minutes in duration with up to 10 players per game. It is free and available to play on computers, and iOS and Android devices.
“It’s an honor for Virtual Regatta to welcome SailGP in the eSailing World Championship,” said Virtual Regatta Founder/CEO Philippe Guigné. “Creating the virtual F50 has been really challenging and enjoyable for our team – this is what we love! Adding SailGP specifics such as boundaries and wind ladders dramatically increases the gaming experience, and we expect that tens of thousands of players will have as much fun as us while playing this fantastic game, both online and onsite at SailGP events.”
eSailGP will also become part of the eSailing World Championship, jointly organized by World Sailing and Virtual Regatta. Launched in 2018, the eSailing World Championship is the ultimate virtual battle for world championship glory, featuring an eight-month season culminating with a Live Final and $10,000 prize offered by Virtual Regatta.
“The eSailing World Championship continues to increase in popularity with new challenges and improved gameplay almost on a weekly basis,” commented World Sailing CEO Andy Hunt. “Established Olympic and internationally recognized classes have been the backbone of the gameplay but the introduction of eF50s will provide the hundreds of thousands of gamers with an exciting new discipline to play.
“The intricate details of sailing the F50 have been brought seamlessly into the virtual world enabling sailors and non-sailors alike to experience what it is like to sail the fastest boats in our sport.”
eSailing attracted nearly 170,000 players from 74 nations over a six-month period last year. In 2019, following a playoff among the 1,000 best players in the world, the top eight will qualify for the Live Final that coincides with the World Sailing Annual Conference and Awards on October 29 in Bermuda.
Virtual Regatta and eSailGP are made up of Challenges that incorporate several races over a designated time period, up to multiple days. eSailGP will feature two types of Challenges – virtual and live – to coincide with each of SailGP’s real life events. SailGP’s inaugural season will culminate this weekend with the Season 1 Grand Final taking place in the iconic city of Marseille, France.
“eSailGP is a really fun way to race the fastest boats in the world without having to get wet,” said Olympic silver medalist Stuart Bithell, flight controller for the Great Britain SailGP Team. “It represents the thrills of our high-speed racing very accurately, and I get to try things I wouldn’t normally do on the water. You don’t have to be a sailor to enjoy this game and after a bit of training, players could get a chance to race again some of the best real-life sailors in the world, including me!”
A series of three virtual challenges of increasing durations open to all players worldwide will take place this week to launch eSailGP. The first live event – 2019 Marseille eSailGP Live – will take place on September 21 in the Marseille SailGP Fan Zone, with the eFinal contested on stage immediately following Saturday racing (approximately 3:50 p.m. CEDT). The eQualifications will take place the same day from 1-3 p.m., and will feature up to 50 players.
SailGP Season 2 – set to kick off in Sydney on February 28-29, 2020 – will feature live events at each of the global sports league’s iconic venues.