Start-up Client Success Story – World’s fastest foiling sail-racer

SuperFoiler Grand Prix is an exciting new super-fast sailing racing series made possible by the latest hydrofoil technology which literally makes yachts fly across water. This series is coming to Australian TV this summer and may later be televised overseas. See Channel 7 news coverage here.

Grand Prix Sailing, a family business and Accru Felsers client, designed and built ground-breaking boats, gained sponsorships and sold the rights to Channel 7 in just a few short years. They have quickly gone from a start-up to being in a position to deliver returns to investors. Read on to find out how they did it.

With the first Superfoiler Grand Prix race scheduled to air on Channel 7 and interest from tourism providers and overseas TV networks, this real-life Australian start-up is on its way to changing the face of yacht racing.

Under Channel Seven’s broadcast agreement, six teams will race SuperFoilers across six iconic venues in 24 hours of programming this summer. Races are extremely fast (in excess of 40 knots) and with on-board cameras, crew mikes and low-flying drones, race viewers will have a genuine sense of being on board and part of a high-intensity competition.

A rich pedigree of TV and sailing

The Macartney family conceived the Superfoiler design, had the boats built and sold TV rights in the last few years. They are no strangers to sailing, having run Grand Prix Sailing as a business throughout the 1980s and 90s. Bill Macartney, a former journalist, is a well-known sailing entrepreneur who worked on televised yacht racing on Sydney Harbour in earlier decades, as well as on World Series Cricket and the Paul Hogan Show.

Inspired by the Americas Cup

Bill Macartney says that the inspiration for his latest venture came from watching the America’s Cup on TV with his son. “The extraordinary spectacle of those 72-foot America’s Cup catamarans suddenly rising up out of the water was like nothing I’d ever seen before. All of a sudden we saw there was a whole new dimension to yacht racing.”

From there, the Superfoiler concept was germinated from a sketch on the back of a beer coaster. In 2014, the family decided the time was right to turn the idea into a business. New technology was available to manufacture the foiling concept and essentially create a new sport – flying on water – which could be streamed via 21st century digital channels as well as free-to-air TV. The Macartneys found a world leading designer who understood what they wanted and could make the dream-machine a reality.

From capital raising to boat building

Their next step was to develop an Information Memorandum (in conjunction with Sydney partner Glenda Nixon), signalling the start of their capital raise and commitment to executing their business plan. In the capital raise, the Macartneys approached a number of sophisticated investors who took up the opportunity, contributing millions of dollars in funding.

Almost on the same day the capital raising was completed, the build process started. As Jack Macartney says “The relief of completing one step rolled straight into another set of challenges. The testing of the SuperFoiler threw a variety of curve balls which at times left us thinking ‘gee this is a really cranky tiger we have by the tail’!”

Nevertheless, by March 2017, the Superfoiler boat was ‘born’ and the concept had become a functioning start-up business.

Not just a boat, but a marketing vehicle

Not only does the SuperFoiler do what it’s designed to do, but it captures the viewers’ imagination and attention and provides a unique marketing vehicle that can deliver value to brands and partners looking for compelling billboard-style advertising or corporate hospitality.

Bill is now in talks with overseas TV operators interested in international TV rights, including ITV and Fox Sports. He also expects to lock in corporate sponsors for the boats and agreements with tourism bodies including Destination NSW.

Success factors

Jack Macartney believes the company’s success has been largely due to persistence, passion and having a committed team. “We took a big leap of faith in our experience, our belief in the machine and our ability to deliver on so many levels. It’s a cliche but we have a great team around us, including Accru on the financial side (thank you Glenda!). We couldn’t have done it without everyone involved.”

While having a great business concept and product is essential, start-ups are often only as good as their ability to quickly scale their idea into a business model that delivers profits back to their investors. Accru Felsers has helped with this by implementing a finance function that provides a strong foundation for the business’s growth moving forward.

Jack says “Accru Felsers has been with us since the 80’s and rock solid for us. Not only in keeping us on-track with our accounting but also connecting us with like-minded people. The reporting system has been a great tool for getting our finance function running smoothly and also for our reporting to shareholders. It’s really important to us that we are professional in all areas and this is one area that I’m proud to say we are organised!”

A huge achievement

It’s a herculean feat for a family business to build ground-breaking boats manned with six fully sponsored teams flying around on TV screens, and be in a great position to start delivering returns to investors – in just a few short years. Accru’s Glenda Nixon, an avid competition sailor herself, is especially proud to have played a part in this client success story. We are excited about what the next chapter will bring for Grand Prix Sailing.

Superfoiler Grand Prix logo

By Glenda Nixon, Accru Felsers Sydney & Jack Macartney, Grand Prix Sailing.