SailGP, the international sailing series, has today (June 8) announced a significant extension of its commercial tie-up with Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mubadala.
Mubadala, which first came on board as an event partner for SailGP in January 2022, has now signed up as a global series partner through to the end of 2026. The firm joins the Rolex, Oracle, and Near brands in this category.
The Mubadala agreement for the next three campaigns also gives that company title sponsorship rights for the New York Sail Grand Prix on June 22 and 23 next year, which will bring its fourth season to a conclusion.
Andy Thompson, SailGP’s managing director, has told GlobalData Sport that the extended partnership represents a “much broader relationship that goes season-long, those first years were a proof of concept, to make sure the alignment was there for both parties.
“There’s a focus from both of us on sustainability, innovation, and driving forward new ideas. That’s our DNA and they have that at their core too.
“We’d been talking for a few months prior to the original deal, and since then conversations have developed, we’ve been to Abu Dhabi and spoken a lot, it’s gone from there. For the last six months, we’ve been in advanced discussions [around an extension], planning what assets are required and how we’re going to execute.
“They’re now sitting at global partner level so they get the broadest branding from an event and broadcast perspective, custom content, and digital assets."
Thompson also told GlobalData Sport that the series is currently searching for key partners in the clean energy and banking sectors.
SailGP has said the Mubadala partnership focuses on the pillars of building a more sustainable future “through collective efforts in sport and business, connecting investment with cutting-edge technology and innovation" and promoting STEM education and sports “to create pathways for talent to thrive.”
On this front, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) brand has now become a partner of the league’s SailGP Inspire youth engagement program, which "aims to build a more inclusive sport from the ground up," according to Thompson.
Homaid Al Shimmari, Mubadala’s deputy group chief executive and chief corporate and human capital officer, commented: “Mubadala is pleased to be working with SailGP in a partnership which brings together two trailblazing organizations.
“Like SailGP, Mubadala aims to make waves, by being a responsible investor and contributing to finding solutions to global challenges.”
The tie-up aligns with the UAE hosting a SailGP event during the upcoming season four (as it did in 2022), with an event in January next year yet to be allocated a specific host site.
On that front, Thompson said: “There’s still work to do on our calendar, we’re looking for continual expansion – that’s one of the key points around our sponsorship program. We’re delivering growth year on year and will continue to do so.
“We’re looking to set up an attractive calendar and set of team markets, we want more races in order to create an appointment-to-view element that sailing’s never really had before.
“As sponsors do come on board, we work with them to deliver their needs within reason – we try to collaborate to identify events and markets that we would go to in the future, for sure."
He added: “There isn’t really a traditional SailGP sponsor – we’re looking at a diverse range of brands in terms of who we’re talking to, we’ve got our global partner level, an official partner level, and a supplier level.
“We want to take the sport to new audiences, and as a result we’re seeing a different set of brands come on board than might be traditionally expected within sailing.”
From the point of view of upcoming partnerships, Thompson said: “The main goal for us at the moment is a broad-scale clean energy partner, to help drive our ambitions in that department. We have aims to be powered by nature this season, we’re currently doing the heavy lifting with that so we want a partner to come on board and assist in telling that part of the story.
“To meet our clean energy roadmap targets a lot of work needs to be done behind the scenes. That’s a clear target.
"In terms of more traditional sectors, we’re also looking at banking.”
In terms of SailGP’s recent commercial activity, meanwhile, the series earlier this month brought the global financial services provider Apex Group on board as a partner, while in late April it extended its multi-faceted agreement with the international sports and entertainment heavyweight agency IMG.
Last week, meanwhile, SailGP announced a new German team for its fourth season.
Season four of SailGP will begin in Chicago, US, on June 16, and will run through until July 2024, in San Francisco.