The Great Britain SailGP Team led by former Olympic stars Ben Ainslie and Hannah Mills has signed a three-year partnership with renewable energy company Low Carbon in its quest to become the most sustainable elite sports team in the world.
The partnership, announced Monday, is intended to help the sailing team attain its goal of reaching net zero by 2025, to compete for the SailGP’s Impact League title and establish climate education programs designed to reach 3 million young people.
An immediate benefit of the partnership will be a portable solar and battery installation that will power the team’s base with renewable energy as it moves from regatta to regatta in tech tycoon Larry Ellison’s global league, which is contested in foiling 50-foot catamarans. That system is expected to be ready by the season finale in San Francisco in early May.
“That’s such a big partner to have, bearing in mind our sustainability goals both as a team and part of the SailGP league,” Ainslie, the team’s CEO and skipper, said in an interview.
Ainslie said becoming net zero by 2025 “is a tough push, but with partners like Low Carbon it’s certainly much more realistic.”
Ainslie is the most-decorated sailor in Olympic history, having won four gold medals and a silver. He won the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2013 before forming his own team and is in his second season leading the British SailGP team. Mills is the most successful female Olympic sailor of all time with two golds and a silver.
The British team finished second to New Zealand in last season’s SailGP Impact League competition, which rewards teams for positive environmental and sustainable actions that run parallel to the sailing competition. The Impact League winner receives $100,000 for its sustainability partner. The British are currently in fourth place in this season’s Impact League while sitting in third place in the sailing competition, which will culminate with a $1 million, winner-take-all championship race involving the top three teams at the end of the San Francisco regatta.
“We talk about the oceans being our pitch as a sports team and of course it’s incumbent on us to try to protect that,” Ainslie said. He added that athletes are in position for “really setting an example for particularly the younger generations coming through by looking up to these sports people around the world as to what does climate change mean and what can we really do in our everyday lives and in our communities to make a difference.”
The partnership is the first for the British team since Ainslie and two business partners took 100% ownership late last year, a first for a SailGP team. Low Carbon is working to generate 20 gigawatt hours of renewable energy by 2030, enough energy to power more than 7 million homes, or roughly powering every home in every city visited by the SailGP tour this season.
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