Coronado High School 2011 graduate, Hans Henken, will join the new SailGP sailing league’s U.S. team as the Flight Controller.
Henken won the bronze medal at the 2009 Youth World Championships in the 49er class, then went on to become the youth world champion in the moth class later the same year – before going on to the college racing circuit with Stanford University.
The league will have five races in 2019, including New York and San Francisco. Additional races will take place in Australia, England and France. SailGP will feature state-of-the-art catamarans that can reach speeds exceeding 60 mph – making this one of the fastest and most electrifying races to ever hit water.
The five members of the U.S. SailGP Team are: Rome Kirby, 29, of Newport, Rhode Island (helmsman); Riley Gibbs, 22, of Long Beach, California (wing trimmer); Hans Henken, 26, of Coronado, California (flight controller); Mac Agnese, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida (grinder); and Dan Morris, 30, of Newport, Rhode Island (grinder).
The crew boasts an impressive track record in international racing, with a host of professional ocean racing and world championship honors between them. Kirby will be looking to add SailGP success to his 2013 America’s Cup win, while Morris has a World Match Racing Tour title under his belt. Agnese, Gibbs and former youth world champion Henken are all bidding to represent Team USA at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“This is a turning point in American sailing,” said SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts. “SailGP is setting out to redefine how top sailors compete and how fans worldwide watch them, with annual races in major cities and a nation-versus-nation format. Rome brings an incredible level of experience, and has built a strong team indicative of the burgeoning development pipeline in the U.S. This is a young, eager and talented group with a bright future.”
Spearheaded by Larry Ellison and Coutts, SailGP will kick off its inaugural season in February 2019. It will feature five grand prix events and six national teams competing on identical wingsailed F50s – the world’s fastest, most technologically advanced catamarans. In addition to the United States, the six teams will represent Australia, China, France, Great Britain and Japan. Each team will have a five-person crew aboard 50-foot foiling catamarans, which are expected to break the 50-knot (or 60 mph) speed barrier.
The intensely competitive, inshore racing events will be held in Sydney (February 15-16); San Francisco (May 4-5); New York (June 21-22); Cowes, UK (August 10-11); and Marseille, France (September 20-22).
The SailGP event in New York will take place on the lower Hudson River, with the onshore Race Village located at Brookfield Place. It will feature Friday and Saturday afternoon racing just off the Battery and running north toward Rockefeller Park. In San Francisco, racing will take place in the San Francisco Bay, with the Race Village located on the Marina Yacht Club Peninsula. It will feature Saturday and Sunday mid-day racing on the city front racecourse.
“It’s an incredible honor to represent the United States and compete for our country,” said Kirby. “We’re all lifelong sailors – it’s our profession and our passion. But until now we’ve never had the chance to go toe-to-toe against the world’s best international sailors over a full season of competition. SailGP brings something totally new to the sport. The race venues are spectacular but challenging, and there’s that extra edge you get representing the USA against other national teams. SailGP will bring the sport we love closer to fans and spectators than ever before.”
Sanctioned by World Sailing, each grand prix event will consist of two competition days with five fleet races, culminating in a final match race between the two leaders. The final race in Marseille will feature a winner-takes-all, $1 million championship match race between the season’s top two teams to conclude three days of racing.