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A Fan-Owned Sports Team Wants to Enter Professional Sailing for the First Time—With the Help of NFTs

Imagine a Green Bay Packers-style fan franchise, and then add block-chains, crypto currency and fast, technical foiling boats that streak across the water at 50 mph.

SailGP has announced a new fan-owned team that plans to join its circuit Courtesy SailGP

A fan-owned franchise, similar to the Green Bay Packers, has announced its intention to enter the world of competitive sailing. Bernoulli-Locke said it plans to raise funds to launch a SailGP team that will represent Bermuda and the Caribbean. The team plans to raise $40 million with ownership stakes, via block-chain, costing $20,000 each. The 2,000 new owners will presumably each want a say in how the new team is managed and run.

SailGP was founded four years ago by America’s Cup legend Russell Coutts and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison as a competitive sailing league that would represent different countries. While Ellison committed to bankrolling SailGP for five years, the idea was that it would become a for-profit league with teams bought and sold as franchises by individual owners. But 2,000 owners?

“We’ve paid a lot of attention to how it will be governed,” David Palmer, CEO of Bernoulli-Locke, told Robb Report. “Obviously you can’t have two thousand owners deciding who will be driving the boat that week.” The team will have a sporting director to oversee team decisions, while the owners will also be divided into “subcommittees,” says Palmer, similar to Congressional subcommittees that address specific legislative issues. “They would address different aspects from team colors to loyalty programs.”

SailGP has announced a new fan-owned team that plans to join its circuit
Will there be a new team filling that empty space next season? Maybe, if the fan-owned concept works. Courtesy SailGP

It sounds onerous compared to the current structure in most professional sports, where franchise teams are overseen by individual owners, and coaches make the big decisions, rather than deciding by committee. Palmer believes the idea is doable. “There will be compromises that need to happen, but we’ve put a lot of thought into how this will work inside a high-performance organization.”

The concept is also using a novel approach by applying a Web3 infrastructure to a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and NEAR protocol that the founders think will deliver greater transparency to a global ownership base. The investor/owners will each buy a fungible token via a block-chain exchange that is different than, say, bitcoin or other crypto currencies. “The token represents an equity position in the company for $20,000,” says Palmer. “Think of it as tokenized stock certificate.”

Bernoulli-Locke will be offering its first round for investors starting this weekend, when SailGP’s event in Dubai takes place, with residents of Bermuda and the Caribbean as the first participants. The company expects 2,000 investors by January, with its team starting in March, for the inaugural race of SailGP’s fourth season in Chicago. Palmer believes the timeline is doable. “Out of the millions of possible investors, finding 2,000 doesn’t seem like an overly ambitious number,” he says.

SailGP has announced a new fan-owned team that plans to join its circuit
The company behind the fans-owned concept thinks SailGP’s open-source data and raw excitement will sell the sport. Courtesy SailGP

The league’s open-source data and use of Web3 should appeal to fans, says Tod Reynolds, director of Web3 Strategy for SailGP. “There’s a lot of value in a fan-owned team,” he says. “Ultimately, this is about creating a passionate fan base and that’s where Web3 comes in. It helps us build a global community.” Reynolds says that the open-source technology allows a deeper insight into the workings of the team, as well as helping to create loyalty programs, NFTs, and other fan assets.

“Our tech stack will let us do more than other boats,” Reynolds adds. “It will impact how the fans interact with SailGP, not only through the sailing but also with authenticated collectibles, NFT ticketing and even fantasy sports.” Other professional sports, he adds, will be watching how well the system works with the wannabe SailGP team.

If the group can raise the initial $40 million, says Palmer, it will be enough to cover operating costs for the first three years.

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