SailGP, the international sailing series currently holding its second season, has hired Ben Johnson, formerly of the Drone Racing League, as senior vice-president of strategy and commercial development.

In his new role, Johnson will “lead the league’s North American expansion across broadcast and digital rights, commercial partners, agency relationships, agency relationships, and venues and host locations.”

SailGP adds that his hiring will “support the league’s rapid global expansion.”

Johnson had worked at Drone Racing League, the international series, since 2016, most recently as senior vice-president and head of international, before which he spent time at Tough Mudder, the obstacle racing event organiser, as senior director of global brand marketing.

Russell Coutts, SailGP’s founder and chief executive, said: “We're excited for Ben to lead our rapid expansion and contribute to the championship’s growth across all aspects of the business…

“The demand to grow the SailGP brand in North America is unparalleled and presents an incredible opportunity. As we strive to accelerate the expansion of the league globally, we see North America as a critical part of our global footprint.”

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Johnson added: “I am incredibly motivated to join SailGP and be part of the league’s inspiring, purpose-driven growth. The quality of the sport and competition is the best in the world and will capture a new generation of fans and audiences.”

SailGP next heads to Sydney for the Australia Sail Grand Prix on 17 and 18 December, before concluding its 2021-22 campaign in March next year with a visit to San Francisco, USA.

The series recently announced its expansion to 10 teams for season three, with franchises from Canada and Switzerland to be added, and a desire to hold at least two races in North America.

Earlier this week, meanwhile, SailGP entered into a partnership with KPMG Australia, under which the Australian arm of the professional services firm becomes presenting partner of the Sydney Grand Prix next month.

Amanda Hicks, KPMG’s managing partner for client experience and brand, said: “Sponsoring the world-class SailGP, a climate positive sport, brings together our commitment to economic recovery, the wellbeing of our planet and our people.”

Currently, Team Australia sits atop of the SailGP season two leaderboard, having won the Spain Sail Grand Prix last month.