Eight teams ready for SailGP Taranto
Published on June 2nd, 2021
The second season of SailGP shifts from Bermuda to Italy for the second stage on June 5-6 in Taranto. All eight teams are back on their F50 catamarans, with two teams adjusting to crew changes while two others have recovered from significant boat damage.
The current leader after the first event – the British SailGP Team – has swapped one Olympic gold medalist for another with Paul Goodison making his debut as the driver for the British team, replacing Ben Ainslie for the next two events.
“This is my first time ever sailing on the F50 and I was very impressed by the team and the boat and it was just great to get out sailing again,” said Goodison. “There is a little bit of apprehension for me going into my first event but, to be honest, I am just super excited and just can’t wait to get out there and line up with the other boats and start racing.”
Swiss born Arnaud Psarofaghis also had his first two days in the driving seat. The double European champion in the foiling Moth class, takes the wheel of the New Zealand SailGP Team after the date shift for the Tokyo Olympic Games sees Peter Burling and Blair Tuke step aside into a supporting role for the next two SailGP events in Plymouth and Aarhus.
Additional crew changes on the New Zealand boat include the arrival of James Wierzbowski as flight controller, and Jason Saunders as wing trimmer. The three new team members took to the water for the first time with their sights firmly set on moving up the leaderboard from fifth position.
Southern Italy will see the reemergence of Jimmy Spithill’s United States SailGP Team and Nathan Outteridge’s Japan SailGP Team after a nearly catastrophic collision in Bermuda that severely damaged both boats and took them out of the running for the event.
With a tent setup for repairs, the boats arrived from Bermuda on May 20, and over the past two weeks, the SailGP technical team has been working 24/7 in multiple shifts to repair the carbon fiber hulls, steering system, hydraulics, and electronics.
Both boats returned to the water on June 2 for some vital training ahead of the season’s second event. Here’s what was on the repair punch list:
• Aft port rudder snapped off completely. Rudders were sent back to New Zealand for extensive rebuild and were hand carried back to Italy to avoid damage.
• Steering system damaged including wheel and aft steering system.
• Daggerboard casing damaged including hydraulic system used to control the foils.
• Hull damage required new bow sections taken off a French America’s Cup boat and retrofitted to the F50 and painted to match.
• Damage to various race electronics used for flight control.
Format for SailGP events:
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three races on each day, totaling six races at each event.
• The opening five fleet races involve every team.
• The final match race pits the three highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.
SailGP Season 2 Schedule*
April 24-25, 2021 – Bermuda Grand Prix
June 5-6, 2021 – Italy Grand Prix – Taranto
July 17-18, 2021 – Great Britain Grand Prix – Plymouth
August 20-21, 2021 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Grand Prix – Aarhus
September 11-12, 2021 – France Grand Prix – Saint-Tropez
October 9-10, 2021 – Spain Grand Prix – Andalusia
January 29-30, 2022 – New Zealand Grand Prix – Christchurch
March 26-27, 2022 – United States Grand Prix – San Francisco (Season 2 Grand Final)
*Subject to change
2021-22 Teams, Helm
Australia, Tom Slingsby
Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
France, Billy Besson
Great Britain, Ben Ainslie (alternate – Paul Goodison)
Japan, Nathan Outteridge
New Zealand, Peter Burling (alternate – Arnaud Psarofaghis)
Spain, Jordi Xammar (alternate – Phil Robertson)
United States, Jimmy Spithill
Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe. Rival national teams compete in identical F50 catamarans with the season culminating with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.