The U.S. Virgin Islands’ Taylor Canfield will compete in one of the most highly anticipated sailing races in the world on May 4 in San Francisco.
SailGP, a new league formed in 2018 and host of the May 4 race, will host a total of five races this year. The total purse will be $1 million awarded in a winner-takes-all match race at the end of the season.
The league’s founders say they plan to redefine the sport of sailing with technological advances in sail and hull design.
Canfield is one of six members of the U.S. SailGP team, five of whom will compete in the race. Canfield’s position is flight controller of the team’s high-performance F50 catamaran, making him responsible for piloting the “flight” of the boat.
Canfield said the SailGP league will prepare him and his teammates for the America’s Cup match race in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2021. Canfield is helmsman of the USA’s Stars & Stripes Team.
Unlike the America’s Cup, a historic race of high-speed monohulls, SailGP is a catamaran race.
“The SailGP circuit is the best platform to be training for the speeds, foiling and quick decision-making required of the America’s Cup,” Canfield said. “I can’t think of a better platform to get experience at these high speeds and adrenaline-based sailing.”
Canfield added, “Racing against the best sailors in the world will continue to up my game.”
Canfield has been a major force in the sport of sailing since 2011 and is widely regarded as the best American match racer in decades.
Canfield has earned a World Match Racing Championship and four Congressional Cup wins. He was added to the U.S. SailGP team two weeks before the first race in February of this year.
Hailing from St. Thomas, Canfield began sailing at six years old in the waters around the territory and competed in his first race one year later. He graduated from Antilles School in 2007 and raced at the collegiate level while attending Boston College, earning a degree in economics.
SailGP includes a total of six teams from the U.S., Australia, China, France, Great Britain and Japan. Teams race in identical 50-foot foiling catamarans capable of breaking on-water speeds of 60 mph.
A foiling, or “hydrofoil,” sailboat is a sailboat with wing-like foils mounted under its hull to reduce drag. SailGP catamarans can achieve speeds of more than twice the speed of the wind alone.
Future SailGP races will be held in New York City in June, Cowes, U.K., in August and Marseilles, France in September. The first of the five races was held in Sydney, Australia in February.
Fans can follow SailGP and the U.S. team on Facebook and on the SailGP website. They also can watch Canfield and all of the participating teams in the upcoming races by downloading the SailGP app.
“Look for F1 on water and make sure to tune in and cheer us on,” Canfield said.
Virgin Islanders can keep an eye out for Canfield around Christmas, when he tries to come home to St. Thomas.
“I usually get back for Christmas every other year and I’m always looking at the schedule to see if there’s a chance to do any sailing down there. It’s one of my favorite places in the world to sail,” he said.