Staying in the Game – Lessons From the Australian Team at SailGP in SF

Staying in the Game – Lessons From the Australian Team at SailGP in SF

Aus vs Jpn Sail GP San Francisco
AUS Leading JPN to the first mark with Alcatraz in the background. Shot with my IPhone

Last weekend the San Francisco bay played host to an amazing sailboat racing event called SailGP. Sail Grand Prix (SailGP) is a racing event combining the very cutting edge of sailing and technology. Founders of this sailing circuit Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts (CEO of Sail GP and former America’s Cup Skipper) are trying to replicate Formula 1 car racing and build a fan base around the world. San Francisco was SailGP’s second stop after Sydney earlier this year. The circuit will head next to New York, Great Britain and France and attract sailboat racing fans from around the globe. We hope to see it return next year to our beautiful bay waters!

Why is a financial advisor writing about this event instead of finance you might ask? The answer is simple, despite some serious setbacks and a tough competitor in team Japan, the Australian team, leaders going into the San Francisco event, took the long-term view and came out on top. As one of my crew members put it to a novice who was watching the event, “This is like the Super Bowl and the World Series of sailing combined.” I was very fortunate to get a chance to watch these races on the water on a boat myself surrounded by my friends and my personal sailboat racing crew members. It is a weekend I won’t soon forget with super intense, up close sailboats racing on hydrofoils at nearly 50 miles per hour. These sailboats were going so fast that their overpowered chase boats could not keep up! These vessels are what we call one designs, meaning they are identical (unlike the boats in the America’s Cup) so it is up to the crews to make them go as fast as they can and sail as cleanly as possible. There are numerous rules in sailboat racing that make it a very strategic and tactical battle during a race. The Aussie’s had a technical problem with their wing on Saturday, yes, their wing, these boats use airplane technology to get the boats to do nearly 3x the speed of the wind that propels them. The Aussie’s raced all the races on Saturday and did the best they could to earn points. On Sunday, wing fixed, they won one of the fleet races which advanced them to the final race where they beat Japan in a match race duel to win the San Francisco event and stay on top of the leaderboard.

Aus Sail GP San Francisco
AUS practicing near my boat on Saturday.. Too close for comfort

I came away with a sense of awe from their efforts. Tom Slingsby; Skipper and arguably one of the greatest sailboat racers alive was not only a competitor this last weekend, he was a leader with a vision. He held his team together and focused on what mattered. After a crazy year in the markets in 2018, and a very good year so far in 2019 where we have seen a dramatic recovery in public markets, I am reminded that we must keep a long-term attitude with vision if we want to be successful. Setbacks tend to be temporary when you have a vision and your long term plan in place. If you are interested, you can watch replays of the races at sailgp.com

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Risley Sams

Risley Sams

Risley Sams, CFP®, MBA, CPWA®, is the Founder and President of RHS Financial. He is responsible for the future of the firm and the strategic services that we deliver.