SailGP: Accidents, optimism in Denmark
Published on August 18th, 2022
The line-up of nine teams for the SailGP global sports league in Denmark is limping toward the start line as damage during practice may impact the racing in Copenhagen on August 19-20.
It started when the Spanish team’s rudder was damaged in an underwater collision while training, forcing the struggling team to miss crucial practice racing on the day before racing starts. Next down was the Great Britain SailGP Team which hit an uncharted rock just outside the racecourse boundary (see video).
SailGP’s Tech Services will be working through the night to get them both ready for the first race, and while the Spanish troubles look to be solvable, the Brits issues look to be too much to overcome with damage on the starboard side which snapped the head of the starboard rudder clean off along with problems to the foil and board case.
After incurring its share of damage last season, the U.S. SailGP Team has simply not been able to get out of their own way this season, with speed issues and mental errors placing them seventh overall after three events.
With eight events remaining in Season 3, CEO and Driver Jimmy Spithill says the team has pulled no punches during their internal debriefs to help them improve. “We’ve been pretty harsh inside the team, looking at what we need to do to improve.”
“We’ve made some good improvements, but nothing has changed: You need to sail well, you need consistency and you need to keep the mistakes in check. We’re slowly making adjustments and moving forwards. We know what we have to do, and there are no shortcuts.”
Spithill’s longtime coach Philippe Presti has been impressed with the level of commitment and candor from the team during those meetings. “I produce a lot of information for the team to digest. The way I see it, it’s important for me to sit back so the team shares what they see in the information and spark a discussion,” Presti says.
Presti and the team take full advantage of SailGP’s open-source approach to the Oracle data as a way to maximize learnings. “It’s a big asset that we utilize to review all the teams’ data. We review a lot of situations from other boats and listen in to their communications to see and learn how they make plays and strategies.”
Beyond crunching the numbers however, Presti recognizes his other job is, “To understand the team and give them confidence, and to help them find the best way for them to be comfortable and have conviction. This is the only way; it’s like a puzzle and we all need to put the pieces together.”
Looking to turn the corner in Denmark, the team may have an opportunity to gain ground with the second place Great Britain SailGP Team on the sidelines.
Season Three Standings (after three events)
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby – 29 points
2. Great Britain, Ben Ainslie – 24 points
3. New Zealand, Peter Burling – 22 points
4. Canada, Phil Robertson – 22 points
5. Denmark, Nicolai Sehested – 20 points
6. France, Quentin Delapierre – 15 points
7. United States, Jimmy Spithill – 13 points
8. Spain, Jordi Xammar – 8 points
9. Switzerland, Sébastien Schneiter – 7 points
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 19-20, 2022 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen
September 10-11, 2022 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 24-25, 2022 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
November 12-13, 2022 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas
January 13-14, 2023 – Singapore Sail Grand Prix
February 17-18, 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.