US Team finds mojo at SailGP Taranto
Published on June 5th, 2021
Taranto, Italy (June 5, 2021) – The United States SailGP Team came out swinging at the Italy Sail Grand Prix, winning two out of three fleet races on the day, placing them at the top of the standings heading into the final day of racing tomorrow.
Due to light winds on the Taranto racecourse, teams raced with only three positions onboard – driver, wing trimmer, and flight controller – for the first time in SailGP history.
“Racing today really highlighted the depth of talent on our team,” said U.S. SailGP Team Driver Jimmy Spithill. “Sure, I was driving and trimmed the foils through some of the maneuvers, but full credit goes to Paul [Campbell-James] and Rome [Kirby]. Rome was, at times, doing three jobs at once.”
The team found its success early in the day, minimizing maneuvers to force a three-way battle at the final gate with Japan and New Zealand where a gutsy call by Kirby saw the team thread the needle between the two teams, dramatically squeezing past to their first race win of the season.
After a fourth-place finish in the second race, Spithill then roared back, winning the start of the third race and extending their lead the rest of the race, skillfully executing maneuvers to maximize their flight time in the tricky conditions.
“Today we wanted to stay clean and keep away from the pack behind us,” said Spithill. “Our plan is to debrief and review the footage tonight and keep pressing tomorrow.”
Though ahead on count-back, the U.S. team sits even with with Nathan Outteridge’s Japan SailGP Team at 21 points. Phil Robertson’s Spain SailGP Team rounded out the top three positions.
The day was not so successful for Tom Slingsby’s Australia team. The SailGP Season 1 Champions experienced hydraulic issues during the first race, causing a constant decline in performance which saw them come to a complete stop and unable to finish the race. A sixth and a last place to follow saw them end the day bottom of the leaderboard.
Elsewhere on the racecourse, there were mixed performances by the replacement drivers – Arnaud Psarofaghis in charge of the New Zealand boat and Paul Goodison at the wheel of the Great Britain SailGP Team. Psarofaghis, replacing Peter Burling due to his Olympic commitments, secured third, sixth and fifth placed finishes. Meanwhile, Goodison – who won the opening event of Season 2 under permanent driver Ben Ainslie – guided the Brits to sixth, fourth and seventh in the race rankings.
The Kiwis and Brits remain within touching distance of qualifying for tomorrow’s three boat, winner-takes-all final in Taranto, as both teams sit tied on six points behind third place Spain at the end of play.
Racing is being held June 5-6.
Day One Results
1. United States, 21
2. Japan, 21
3. Spain, 17
4. France, 13
5. Great Britain, 11
6. New Zealand, 11
7. Denmark, 9
8. Australia, 5
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.