Saint-Tropez will be a pivotal event for Great Britain after a disastrous unforced error in Copenhagen prevented the team from racing, SailGP’s commentators have said.
Ben Ainslie’s team ran aground in practice after straying beyond the racecourse boundary. The British F50 hit an unchartered rock while travelling at 20 km/h, causing significant damage to the boat and ruling the team out of racing.
This meant that the team, which had been sitting in second place on the championship leaderboard, slid down to fifth place, just two points ahead of France.
The next two events in Saint-Tropez and Cadiz, which together mark the half-way point in Season 3’s 11-event calendar, will prove ‘defining’, Stevie Morrison said.
He described the team running aground in practice as ‘a silly, basic mistake’. “That was a disaster and you’d argue it was a big embarrassing, so they really need to turn it around and get some results going their way,” he said.
Emily Nagel agreed that the pressure is on the British team to ‘pull out some podium places to get back into the season’.
“With 11 events, there is room for each team to falter, but the points are getting very close at the top and the pressure is on those middle teams to stay consistent,” she said. “No-one can afford to have a bad event now.”
Todd Harris meanwhile argued that racing results in Copenhagen ‘could have been a lot worse for the British from a points perspective.” “The team could have lost a lot more points if other teams had done well,” he said. However, he agreed with Nagel and Morrison that the team ‘cannot afford any more mistakes going forward’.
There are currently just four points separating Denmark in third place and France in sixth, which could result in more aggressive and risk taking racing in Saint-Tropez, Nagel said.
“They’ll be a lot of teams really battling it out and I’m sure we’ll see more match racing between teams, especially if you end up with a Final with teams close on points, like Denmark and Great Britain.”
Elsewhere, Nagel, Harris and Morrison picked Spain, Australia and France as key teams under pressure to perform at the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix.
The ‘underperforming’ Spanish will have an opportunity to perform with ‘a light, steady venue’, Morrison said, while Australia, which missed out on a place in the Final in Copenhagen for the first time in six events, will have a ‘kick to them’, Nagel said.
“They’re no longer the golden child who can do no wrong,” she said. “They can’t keep scraping into the Final and taking home the win - they need to step it up now.”
Home favorite France meanwhile will be looking to capitalize on its second place finish in Copenhagen. Nagel said: “We’ve been seeing the French perform well and I’m sure they’ll want to continue that momentum in Saint-Tropez - their home event.”