The race location of Dubai may level the playing field due to the fleet’s shared lack of racing experience in the region, SailGP’s commentators have said.
This weekend’s Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas marks SailGP’s first ever event in the Middle East and will be the first time many of the teams have sailed in the city.
“No-one has spent a significant amount of time here,” said broadcast commentator Emily Nagel, “there aren’t many people who have done much sailing in Dubai.”
Fellow commentator Todd Harris agreed that SailGP is ‘going into uncharted waters’ with its first event in the Middle East.
The race location comes with plenty of unique challenges, including the tight racecourse of Port Rashid, which has the potential to create more boat-on-boat situations. The uncertainties posed by Dubai's racetrack and conditions makes SailGP akin to F1, commentator Stevie Morrison said, with ‘different teams able to take advantages and adapt to different racetracks.”
However, he questioned whether the narrow racecourse will offer ‘any overtake opportunities’, making it harder for teams to move up through the fleet and underlining the importance of making a good start. Great Britain strategist Hannah Mills, who commentated alongside Morrison and Harris in Cádiz, agreed that the ‘starting strategy will be very important’.
The condensed Championship leaderboard currently has just 10 points separating Denmark in sixth and New Zealand in second. As the second half of Season 3 begins, pressure will be heaped onto the ‘four teams battling for third place,’ Mills said, referencing France, Great Britain, Canada and Denmark. “There’s real pressure on those boats to make that step and pull away,” she added.
Nagel agreed, but said Dubai would be specifically crucial for the United States to ‘make an improvement in the overall leaderboard’. After winning in Saint-Tropez and finishing second in Cádiz, the team has climbed up the leaderboard to sit in seventh overall with 34 points. Spectators will also be expecting to see ‘better things’ from the British team, Nagel said. After being unable to compete in Copenhagen after hitting the bottom in training, the team currently sits in fourth place with 40 points. “They’re just not performing how we expect,” Nagel added.
Meanwhile, Mills said Season 3 leaders Australia and New Zealand will be looking to ‘wrap it up’ in the next few events to ‘ensure they make the Grand Final’.
Racing takes place in Dubai between 15:00-16:30 GST on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are still available for the Dubai France Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas HERE. Full broadcast information and How to Watch details HERE.