Spain cannot cope with the pressure to perform on the racecourse and is failing to live up to France’s example as the ‘barometer that all other teams are judged by’, according to SailGP’s podcast.
In the latest episode of Deep Dive, hosts Stevie Morrison and Freddie Carr dissected all the racing action from Dubai, focusing on the lackluster performance of Spain, the fiery reaction of Canada driver Phil Robertson to umpire calls, and New Zealand’s overly aggressive starting strategy.
Spain picked up a poor 9-9-5-7-5-1 fleet racing record across a ‘turgid weekend’, Carr said, but did pick up their first ever race win in the sixth and final fleet race.
While Carr said this result would provide Spain with a ‘much needed shot in the arm’, he questioned why it was unable to repeat its practice day performance which saw the team beat Australia and Great Britain in the three-boat Final.
“They were absolutely brilliant,” Morrison agreed, “it was a wow performance.”
Carr claimed the team’s practice day performance shows ‘they’ve got all the tools in the toolbox’, but suggested the team cannot rise to the pressure of official racing.
Morrison agreed, “It’s a pressure thing because they went from brilliant to rubbish and yes, they picked themselves up (by winning the sixth fleet race) but the pressure was off when they picked themselves up.”
Both Carr and Morrison compared Spain’s poor Season 3 performance to the impressive trajectory of Quentin Delapierre’s France. Delapierre took over as driver half way through Season 2, while Xammar first helmed for Spain at Season 2’s Grand Final in San Francisco.
“Something has to change because Quentin Delapierre and the French team are on fire and the Spanish team is not,” Morrison said.
Carr agreed, adding that ‘changes of crew’ could be a possible outcome of Spain’s continued poor performance.
“There’s often things rumbling along in the background around changes of crew and […] you never know what’s around the corner in this league,” Carr said. “You want to be doing pretty well to not enter that conversation.”
Elsewhere, Carr and Morrison discussed the moment Canada picked up a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct after driver Phil Robertson pushed back against an umpiring decision.
Reflecting on the incident, Carr said he was ‘annoyed’ by Robertson’s reaction.
“It’s kind of a line in the sand moment for me,” he said. “Some of the things I heard said to our referee were totally unacceptable […] and I get it, this is a big deal, but don’t talk like that.”
The moment New Zealand picked up a four-point penalty for contact with Switzerland on the start line of the fifth fleet race also came under scrutiny.
The Kiwis were attempting to find a gap in the fleet line-up when their rudder shaft glanced off the windward hull of Switzerland. This ultimately let the Aussies back into the competition and allowed them to scrape into the Final.
Reflecting on the moment, Morrison said driver Peter Burling would have to ‘learn’ from the incident.
“One aggressive move and bang - they’re gone, they’re out of the final,” he said. However, he remained optimistic about the Kiwis’ chances in Season 3. “New Zealand are really the pretenders to Australia’s crown and I still believe they’re the ones that have got the speed to challenge [them].”
The Deep Dive podcast is available on all major podcast platforms and features new episodes ahead of every event of SailGP Season 3.