The drivers of SailGP’s nine-strong international fleet have analyzed their performances at the Dubai Sail Grand Prix, the league’s first ever event in the Middle East.

Canada had a mixed weekend of racing, picking up a 1-5-8 record on the first day followed by 4-9-8 finishes on the second. This meant the team finished seventh overall, ahead of Spain and Switzerland.

Driver Phil Robertson described the second day as ‘quite disappointing’, with the team struggling to start well.

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // New Zealand, Australia and Canada by shore

Across the weekend, Canada took the longest to cross the start line - an average of 3.45 seconds - and was positioned an average of 20.5m from the line - the second highest in the fleet. This resulted in an average mark one ranking of 4.8.

On the tight racecourse of Port Rashid it was even more important than usual for teams to make a strong start, with limited overtake opportunities once racing began.

“We pride ourselves on our starts and to have a day where you’ve got to start well and you didn’t execute is pretty disappointing," Robertson said after racing.

Dubai marked the last sail grand prix of 2022, with a six week break before the next event in Singapore on January 14 & 15.

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Canada training against Dubai city skyline

Looking ahead, Robertson said the team would use the break to ‘regroup and get back into it’.

“We’ve got a lot to work on off the water and make some big jumps as we have the downtime, which is not a bad thing,” he added.

Denmark driver Nicolai Sehested is another driver looking ahead to the eighth event of the season after technical difficulties on board forced the team to retire from the final fleet race.

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Denmark with Spain and the United States

The Danish F50’s wing screens failed to function throughout the second day of racing, which meant the team was missing vital information, including boundaries, start lines, marks, rival boats, and time to start.

“You’re just sailing in the dark,” Sehested said, “we tried our best but in the third race of the day, the race management said we weren't allowed to race anymore because of safety.”

Sehested complimented his crew for ‘keeping cool’ despite ‘not having any information’.

“The team did well,” he said, “they stayed calm and relaxed and to get a fourth in the second race without any help was pretty good - I’ll take my hat off to the team for that.”

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Nicolai Sehested at press conference

While Sehested admitted the software failure was ‘super frustrating’ he remained upbeat ahead of Singapore.

“You can’t let it get to you, you’ve got to take it on the chin, move on and prepare for Singapore.”

New Zealand was another team that had a difficult second day of racing. The team picked up a four point penalty and was docked two season points after contact with Switzerland on the start line of the fifth fleet race. The Kiwis were attempting to find a gap in the pre-start when their rudder shaft glanced off the windward hull of the Swiss F50.

Reflecting on the incident, driver Peter Burling said it had been a ‘tough day’ of racing.

“We thought we had a pretty good gap (…) and then we had a tiny touch with the Swiss, which cost us so much,” he said. “We just need to go back and have a look at it and work out what we could have done.”

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Sebastien Schneiter at press conference

Elsewhere, Switzerland driver Sébastien Schneiter said there were ‘lots of positives’ to take away from the weekend, including the team’s first ever top three finish.

Switzerland had a weekend of improved starts, particularly on the first day of racing. The team was positioned an average of 12.44m from the starting line, resulting in an average time of 2 seconds to cross the line. However, the team still had the slowest average starting speed - 22.74 km/h - and picked up an average 4.7 mark one ranking.

“The team, the coordination, the maneuvers are getting good - if we start well, we are able to be in the top three,” Schneiter said. “We are improving.”

Season 3 // Dubai Sail Grand Prix // Quentin Delapierre in the mixed zone

Despite narrowly missing out on the event win, France driver Quentin Delapierre said the team’s second place finish in Dubai was ‘a really good result’.

“In the last four events we have been close to the podium (…) and it’s just good to see the smiles of the team,” he said. “We’ve built a really good spirit inside the team and we just have to keep it like this and be focused on San Francisco.”