24 Nov 2021

SailGP and The Race for the Future

Guest Blog: Oracle, as part of techUK's cloud week #CloudFuture

As changes to our environment from climate change become increasingly noticeable, professional athletes are using their profile to encourage action. Their calls are getting louder and more urgent. Meet UK-based SailGP (Sail Grand Prix) who believes passionately that sport has the power to change the world. For decades, Russell Coutts has sailed the world’s oceans and seas accumulating an Olympic gold medal and five America’s Cup wins. Today, as he charts a course with SailGP—which he co-founded—he’s as focused on protecting the waters as he is competing on them. 

“If we destroy our planet, it's not going to come back,” Coutts says during a stop in July for a SailGP event along the shores of Plymouth, Southwest England. “This is the path we are on now. We need to move six times faster than we currently are in order to really hold our own against climate change.” 

SailGP showcases eight national teams competing aboard F50 catamarans, which fly above the water as fast at 60 mph. In its second season, eight events are staged at destinations including San Francisco, Saint-Tropez, Sydney, Bermuda, and other locations around the world. Each catamaran is identical, with the outcome hinging on each team’s maneuvers on the water, including how they use data fed real-time from 800 sensors on the boats, via Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Data is used to make split-second decisions to heighten team performances as well as engage fans through the SailGP app and website. 

“There's almost no end to how we will use this technology, when you look at the artificial intelligence programs, the machine learning that’s driving insights,” says Coutts. “We never dreamed this was imaginable prior to now. Today, Coutts is relying on the same Oracle technology to take action against environmental impact caused by the SailGP competition. 

SailGP also started an “Impact League” among the national teams, where members are measured and rated for sustainability efforts, on criteria including food waste, single-use plastic, diversity and inclusion, clean energy solutions, and using the team’s voice for good.  

At the end of the season there will be two podiums—one for success on the water and the other for a team’s impact off the water. Winners receive funding to use toward an environmental cause of their choice. 

“Sailing has this fantastic connection with nature, with power by the wind. You can’t help but be influenced when you go on the water,” Coutts says. “I have seen some terrible pollution, but I believe the ocean can recover. I think we can win this. It’s the most important race we’ve got right now.” 


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Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Programme Manager, Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Programme Manager for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally in London, Singapore and across the United States as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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Zoe Brockbank

Programme Coordinator, Policy, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Zoe is a Programme Assistant, supporting techUK's work across Policy, Technology and Innovation.

The team makes the tech case to government and policymakers in Westminster, Whitehall, Brussels and across the UK on the most pressing issues affecting this sector and supports the Technology and Innovation team in the application and expansion of emerging technologies across business, including Geospatial Data, Quantum Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies.

Before joining techUK, Zoe worked as a Business Development and Membership Coordinator at London First and prior to that Zoe worked in Partnerships at a number of Forex and CFD brokerage firms including Think Markets, ETX Capital and Central Markets.

Zoe has a degree (BA Hons) from the University of Westminster and in her spare time, Zoe enjoys travelling, painting, keeping fit and socialising with friends.

[email protected]
020 7331 2174

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