Sail GP announces New Zealand as the first-ever winners of the Impact League

Published by SailGP March 28 2022

The New Zealand SailGP Team takes the ‘podium for the planet’ with its Race for the Future partner, Live Ocean. Great Britain takes second place with STEM Crew, and Australia third with Parley.

New Zealand have taken home the top prize in SailGP’s ‘Podium for the Planet’, after being awarded the most points in the Impact League in Season 2. They will pick up the Impact League trophy with a final score of 1246, and collect $100,000 for Live Ocean’s marine conservation work.

The trophy marks a first in sport, where athletes and teams are rewarded for positive environmental and sustainable actions in a league running parallel to the main sailing championship. Launched in July, the Impact League measures teams’ efforts over each event according to ten robust criteria, including travel, tech and innovation, single-use plastic and using their voice for good. The results are independently audited and verified after each event.

New Zealand, led by Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, have been consistently top of the leaderboard throughout the season, taking top place five times. Great Britain came closest to rivaling the New Zealand team taking the top spot on two occasions and missed out on the final prize by 54 points. Australia were also consistently strong performers and finished just below Great Britain on 1161 points. They have won $35,000 and $15,000 for their Race for the Future partners respectively.

New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO Peter Burling said: “We’re stoked to win the first Impact League. It’s been a massive team effort from everyone involved, from the shore team, the sailing team, management and our partners.

“We’ve taken a close look at every area of our operations throughout the season to find ways to improve, develop innovative solutions, introduce new technologies, connect with sustainable partners and use our voice to champion action for a healthy ocean with our Race for the Future partner Live Ocean Foundation.”

SailGP Director of Purpose & Impact Fiona Morgan said: “Sport has the opportunity to play a critical role in educating people around the climate crisis. Awarding the first winners of the Impact League is a very proud moment for SailGP, and proof that sustainability can be embedded in the fabric of sport.

“In just one season we have changed mindsets and driven further sustainability and cutting innovation into our operations. The New Zealand team is a shining example of a team doing things differently for a better planet. I also want to congratulate all teams for their brilliant work – it’s only through collective action that we’ll make a difference. I can’t wait to see what we achieve in Season 3.”

Over the course of the season New Zealand campaigned at the international level to protect seabirds and marine life, helping to secure an historic agreement between Spain and New Zealand. They also worked with partners such as Gen Less to promote clean energy, and innovated in their sailing practices to reduce the use of fuel, water and single-use plastic.

The British team’s motto for Season 2 was ‘small changes, big impact’ and they continuously looked at ways to reduce their overall carbon footprint and use of plastic and clyzar on their F50. Building on their work throughout Season 2 with STEM Crew, the British team have set an ambition for Season 3 – ‘Protect our Planet’ – which aims to help over one million young people take action to protect nature, people and the planet through a new climate education platform.

Australia SailGP Team worked with commercial partner WLTH to fund beach clean-ups, as well as hosting Parley Talks and Ocean Schools at SailGP events. The team also worked hard to install a new mindset around plastic by adopting Parley’s AIR strategy – avoid, intercept redesign.

Collectively all the teams in the Impact League have created new ways of working, collaborating and finding solutions to everyday problems. Some of these will be able to be scaled up and used across the boats and more widely in sailing – such as innovative ways to reduce using plastic cable ties and single-use tape, potentially saving more plastic ending up in the oceans. All of our teams are driving conversations and looking at new technologies to support our SailGP league goal to transition to be fully powered by clean energy both on and off the water, by 2025.

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