US SailGP: Results are the true reflection
Published on June 22nd, 2022
After finishing eighth of nine teams, United States SailGP Team skipper Jimmy Spithill looks back at the challenging Sail Grand Prix in Chicago on June 18-19 and insists the team will make the most out of the tough moments.
One of the best things about sport is that it humbles you, you are never safe – and at the top level, things can change at any time.
There is no short-cutting or lying to yourself on how you are going: results are the true reflection.
When you have a good day out on the race course, there’s no better feeling in the world – but when it goes badly, there is no hiding. You have to look in the mirror, be honest with yourself, and find a way to use the tough moments or bad results as learning opportunities.
That’s what we’re doing this week, after a really disappointing result in our homecoming T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix in Chicago over the weekend.
We have no excuses, but the reality is we were unable to execute clean starts and consistent maneuvers. I’m glad we managed to grab a podium in the final race to give the fans something to cheer, but we let a lot of people down on Navy Pier.
And what a huge turnout. Man, the atmosphere was incredible. We could hear the noise from the water, and it’s probably the closest thing to a sports stadium that I’ve seen in sailing. Honestly, those fans deserved a victory, and we hope to come back and give them a better performance. This is a real sports-crazy city.
The level of this SailGP fleet is rising all the time and the pressure out there on the race course is immense. It’s no coincidence that the teams with more reps and hours together tend to be the ones at the top. Having said that, it’s now not strange to see someone win a race, and then finish in the back in the following race. This shows that any team can win.
One thing I won’t do is pull any punches. I’ve learned through my career that sometimes you just have to take your medicine, and learn the lesson. We have built this team on candor and honesty, and we will be using all of that as we go through all the footage and data from last weekend.
These tough moments are a great test for high level teams: we’ve dug ourselves this hole, and we’ve got to figure out how to climb back out into contention.
I believe we have the right tools, and the right people. We haven’t started Season 3 as we hoped, but we have to keep working hard and cut out silly errors and mistakes on the water – myself included.
That’s the thing about world-class sport: it isn’t supposed to be easy. The whole attraction of racing in this incredible competition is, it isn’t a walk in the park. It’s difficult. It’s challenging. No-one is going out there to lose, and when you do, you will lose sleep and question yourself.
There aren’t many high-level sports out there where literally any team can win, and any team can finish last. And despite the result for us, Chicago was a massive success for SailGP, with insane numbers of fans tuning in and turning up to watch the racing.
We’re making more fans all the time, and we had a few special guests come along for the ride in Chicago too, like pro wakeboarder Parks Bonifay and Darnell Mooney from the Chicago Bears.
These guys are serious athletes, and whenever they get close to the F50, their minds are just blown, which shows how insane these racing machines are.
For these top-class performers – and the likes of Kai Lenny and Jamie O’Brien – to become fans of SailGP, gives our sport real credibility. It seems like the more we can get this racing in front of people, they just get converted as soon as they experience it. With boats flying at 100 kph, powered only by the wind, you kind of have to see it to believe it.
Next up, a trip to Great Britain Sail Grand Prix – and a return to saltwater sailing. The freshwater racing on Lake Michigan was really different for the teams as the foils react differently – you need more speed to lift, and it’s tougher to stay flying when you do.
It’s the first time we have raced on a lake since I joined SailGP, and I hope it’s a sign of things to come. I’m excited about the potential for opening up new venues and markets that were previously out of bounds. I mean, look at the amount of freshwater lakes across Europe and the northern hemisphere.
We could even bring the best sailing in the world to the likes of Las Vegas – where some of the toughest heavyweights in the world have taken big punches, and gotten back on their feet.
Hopefully, we can do the same when we head to the UK at the end of July.
1. Australia, 7-2-3-9-1-(1), 33 points
2. Canada, 4-1-1-2-2-(2), 45 points
3. Great Britain, 2-3-2-3-5-(3), 40 points
4. New Zealand, 1-5-4-5-8, 32 points
5. France, 9-8-6-1-4, 27 points
6. Denmark, 3-4-8-6-7, 27 points
7. Spain, 5-6-5-8-6, 25 points
8. United States, 8-9-7-7-3, 21 points
9. Switzerland, 6-7-9-4-9, 20 points
*The Japan SailGP Team will sit out the first events of the season due to a series of external factors resulting in only nine F50s being available for the start of Season 3.
Season Three Standings (after two events)*
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby – 20 points
2. Canada, Phil Robertson – 17 points
3. Great Britain, Ben Ainslie – 17 points
4. New Zealand, Peter Burling – 12 points
5. Denmark, Nicolai Sehested – 12 points
6. France, Quentin Delapierre – 9 points
7. United States, Jimmy Spithill – 9 points
8. Spain, Jordi Xammar – 8 points
9. Switzerland, Sébastien Schneiter – 4 points
*Japan, Nathan Outteridge: For the events they miss, Japan will receive Regatta Points based on the average of their Regatta Points in the first three regattas in which they compete.
2022-23 SailGP Season 3 Schedule*
May 14-15, 2022 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess
June 18-19, 2022 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 30-31, 2022 – Great Britain Sail Grand Prix | Plymouth
August 18-19, 2022 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen
September 9-10, 2022 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 23-24, 2022 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
November 11-12, 2022 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas
January 14-15, 2023 – Singapore Sail Grand Prix
February 18-19, 2023 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 17-18, 2023 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 6-7, 2023 – United States Sail Grand Prix | San Francisco (Season 3 Grand Final)
Format for 2022-23 SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• 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 and earn the largest share of the $300,000 prize money to be split among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.
For competition documents, click here.
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 for event prize money as the season culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.