Rough conditions on the first day of the Spain Sail Grand Prix presented by NEAR forced crews to choose between ‘speed and stability’, France driver Quentin Delapierre has said.
Australia finished the day in pole position at the top of the leaderboard but is tied with France heading into the second day of racing, with both teams chalking up 24 points apiece. Great Britain meanwhile battled back from an uncharacteristic eighth place finish in the first race of the day to finish third overall with 22 points.
Speaking after the race, Delapierre said the conditions, which caught out even the most experienced crews in the league, forced teams to choose between speed and stability.
“You have to choose between riding height and stability, because if you crash it’s over,” Delapierre said, adding that it was ‘hard to find the balance’.
Australia strategist Tash Bryant agreed, that ‘safety came first’ in today’s conditions which also highlighted the importance of clear communication on board.
“With the chop, it was like being in a washing machine most of the time, so it was really important to make sure everyone knew what was going on.”
Both Delapierre and Australia driver Tom Slingsby complimented the performances of their flight controllers François Morvan and Jason Waterhouse, with Slingsby describing Waterhouse as the ‘MVP of the day’.
Delapierre added: “It was a pretty challenging day for [Morvan] and he did so well helping us to stay at the front of the fleet."
Speaking about Australia’s fragile position tied with France at the top of the podium, Slingsby admitted he was ‘not comfortable’ heading into the second day of racing. There are currently just five points separating Spain in sixth place and Australia and France in joint first.
“The points are so tight so for sure we’re not comfortable,” he said, “we need at least two good races out of three tomorrow to cement us in the Final. If we only have one good race, it will be up in the air and probably unlikely so we’ve just got to have a good first race and go from there.”
Racing resumes at 4pm CEST on Sunday.