Great Britain SailGP Team athletes arrive on Plymouth Hoe after epic 450 miles cycle ride
Three members of the Great Britain SailGP Team that will compete in this weekend’s Great Britain Sail Grand Prix in Plymouth (July 30 and 31) completed an epic 450-mile cycle ride to the event when they arrived on The Hoe in Plymouth today.
The trio of Neil Hunter, Matt Gotrel and Luke Parkinson, cycled to Plymouth in a bid to keep their team’s carbon footprint for the event as low as possible and contribute to making sure this weekend’s Grand Prix is one of the most sustainable races SailGP has ever staged.
The teammates clocked-up a combined total of more than 450 miles on their two-day journey. Hunter and Parkinson each travelled 148 miles from Portsmouth to Plymouth whereas Gotrel undertook a massive 170 mile journey from his home in Gloucester. The trio were joined by fellow sailor, Ben Cornish, who cycled with Hunter and Parkinson from Portsmouth.
On their arrival on The Hoe, the trio were greeted by Plymouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Councillor James Stoneman.
Neil Hunter said: “We did about 230 kilometres yesterday from Portsmouth to Exeter, so seven and a half hours in the saddle was a fairly long day but fortunately I have been doing quite a lot of road miles recently so it was wasn’t too bad.
“The highlight was probably coming though Dartmoor, where my teammate Matt Gotrel was showing us the sites, so that was pretty special.
“We decided to do the ride as we felt it was a massive opportunity to reduce the carbon footprint of the event. The fact that we have got here completely under our own steam without using cars or trains or buses is great and shows what SailGP is all about.
“For us, as athletes, it shows that you can just take the initiative and think of different ways to have a positive impact. We saw it as a massive opportunity for both training physically and to reduce our carbon footprint at the event. It’s been great and we have really enjoyed it.”
Councillor James Stoneman, Cabinet Member for Climate Change at Plymouth City Council, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Neil, Matt and Luke to Plymouth today as they complete their impressive cycle challenge. They’ve shown such a huge commitment to minimising the team’s carbon footprint and to making this year’s event as sustainable as possible. It’s incredibly fitting that this weekend they’ll be racing in the waters of Plymouth Sound National Marine Park, a UK first and a key part of our city’s own sustainability goals as we strive for carbon neutrality.”
The athletes’ decision to rely solely on pedal power to reach the event is a sign of SailGP’s ambition to be the world’s most sustainable and purpose-driven global sport and the Great Britain team’s commitment, alongside its’ charity partner ‘Protect our Future’, to use its
platform to inspire the next generation better understand the climate emergency and give them the tools to take positive action.
It also reflects the work of SailGP’s Impact League, which was established 12 months ago to encourage and reward actions by its participants to promote carbon reduction, sustainability and inclusivity.
The Impact League runs as a separate championship alongside the Season’s Racing Championship and awards team’s points for positive actions on a range of sustainability criteria. Activities are externally audited and at the end of the season the winner of the Impact League is crowned alongside the Season Champion.
The efforts of Hunter, Parkinson and Gotrel will help the Great Britain team secure Impact League points as it looks to improve on its current standing of 4th place after two races.
Reflecting on the first 12 months of the Impact League, Great Britain SailGP Team grinder, Neil Hunter said: “As Athletes, we are all competitive people, so the Impact League is a great way of encouraging the SailGP Teams to think about different ways in which we can reduce our carbon footprint whilst also making it competitive and engaging.
“Cycling to Plymouth is a reflection of this and means we can use sport to provide a positive contribution to the performance of our team in the Impact League alongside reducing our climate impact.”
The Great Britain Sail Grand Prix takes place in Plymouth – Britain’s Ocean City – on 30 and 31 July 2022 and will feature nine teams battling in short, intense races in identical hydro foiling F50 catamarans at speeds approaching 100 km/h.
The British boat will be driven by Sir Ben Ainslie, who will be competing in the UK for the first time since the Portsmouth America’s Cup World Series in 2016. Tickets are on sale at SailGP.com/GreatBritain.
The event will be one of the most climate-positive races SailGP has ever staged. On the shore, it will be the first time in the UK that SailGP has used innovative green technologies to power the entire race village. In the water it will be trialling new electric technologies.
As part of this year’s event, SailGP is also delivering a number of community impact activities through its Inspire program which are designed to connect with young people in the area and showcase the importance of sustainability in demonstrate how sailing can be a force for good. The Inspire program has engaged over 8,000 young people globally and is well on its way to reaching its target of 10,000 young people by 2025.