SailGP: Havoc on the Hudson
Published on June 21st, 2019
New York, NY (June 21, 2019) – It was a day of high drama on the Hudson River for the first day of the New York SailGP as the sailing conditions provided complete havoc for the six high speed F50 catamaran teams.
The spectacle started before the starting gun was fired, after a strong gust of wind saw the Great Britain SailGP Team capsize 30 minutes before the first race. All sailors were safe, with no injuries, but damage to the wingsail caused them to be unable to compete on day one. The shore crews will work through the night to repair damage and try to get the team back in flying condition for tomorrow’s racing.
“All was going to plan with pre-start preparations, then we got hit by a massive gust of wind, the boat did a porpoise jump, and we were over,” said Dylan Fletcher, helmsman of the Great Britain SailGP Team. “It was devastating watching the other guys race around in the sun with that backdrop; we had been looking to show some of our performance and hopefully sneak a race win.”
It was also a tough start to the day for the United States SailGP Team as wing trimmer Riley Gibbs was replaced due to injury with shore team manager Jeff Causey. Though an accomplished sailor in his own right, the last-minute call-up marked the first time Causey joined the race team, let alone in the wing trimmer role.
Gibbs is confirmed to sit out for the remainder of the event with a back injury, one sustained on board the F50 earlier in the day. “Some large waves came through that knocked me off balance and as I twisted to stop from falling overboard, I tweaked my back,” Gibbs said. “After seeing the medical team, the determination was made that pending further diagnosis I will be cheering on the boys from shore.”
Once the start got underway, it was the teams from Australia and Japan that managed to cope best in the challenging conditions. Nathan Outteridge, helmsman of the Japan team, took two of three race wins on day one. The team’s excellent boat handling allowed it to navigate the constantly changing breeze and challenging racecourse.
“We tried to manage the differences between the gusts and lulls,” said Outteridge. “Downwind you can be speeding along at 40 knots but ahead of you there’s a massive hole, so you had to be looking ahead. What was so good for us today was our whole team knew what the game plan was – to expect anything and the team responded well.”
Outteridge was challenged in the first race of the day by longtime friend and rival Tom Slingsby, helmsman of the Australia SailGP Team, who took the win to continue his winning streak.
“It was crazy out there. I don’t think I’ve sailed in conditions like that before so there was a lot of safety involved just trying to get around the track,” said Slingsby. “We had a good day today – first, second, second – we’re happy with that, and we’re in the hunt tomorrow.”
Coming off a severe crash in San Francisco, the China SailGP Team proved it deserved to be part of the conversation. However, after the US Team had stepped up their game at the previous event, they could not master the day nor overcome the switch in their team.
Looking toward tomorrow’s racing, their back-up Wing Trimmer Tom Johnson is en route to New York and will be onboard for the remaining races.
Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow’s racing which will feature two fleet races and a final match race, pitting the two highest scoring teams against each other in a nation-versus-nation battle to see who is crowned the overall winner of New York SailGP.
Racing will begin at 5 p.m. ET.
Overall Results (after 2 events)
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby, 95 points
2. Japan, Nathan Outteridge, 91
3. Great Britain, Dylan Fletcher, 79
4. United States, Rome Kirby, 68
5. France, Billy Besson, 61
6. China, Phil Robertson, 60
Established in 2018 and headquartered in London and San Francisco, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric, inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe and culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race. Rival national teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States battle it out in identical wing-powered, foiling F50 catamarans, engineered to exceed 50 knots.
Sydney, Australia (February 15-16)
San Francisco, USA (May 4-5)
New York, USA (June 21-22)
Cowes, UK (August 10-11)
Marseille, France (September 20-22)
Source: SailGP, Scuttlebutt