United States driver Jimmy Spithill has described the Final in Cádiz as the ‘closest finish in SailGP history’ after neck-and-neck racing between the U.S. and France culminated in a tense sprint to the finish line.
Quentin Delapierre’s French team pipped the U.S. to the finish line by the thinnest of margins, claiming the win with just three seconds to spare.
Writing for Red Bull, Spithill said the podium race was ‘an awesome final race for the fans’ and complimented the performance of the French, who ‘deserved their first SailGP event victory’.
“Momentum is everything in sport and I think we will see a lot more from them in the second half of the season,” he said.
While the U.S. team ‘just fell short of a back-to-back win’ after winning the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez last month, Spithill said the team’s second consecutive Final was a ‘good confidence boost for the team’.
“We’ve had to listen a lot from different people over the last few months and there has been a lot of noise from outside the camp,” he said, “but champion teams always stick together, and champion teams always respond.”
Light, shifty winds and a turbulent ocean swell challenged crews across the weekend, Spithill said, with the patchy breeze making it ‘hard to get lift’ and the swell making it ‘tough’ to keep the boat stable.
The experience was ‘a bit like bring in a washing machine’, he said, with ‘heaps of rolling waves bouncing off the break wall and rebounding back at us’.
“Physically, it was extremely demanding for the grinders as, due to the big waves, all the trimmers were having to be very active,” he said.
The conditions were particularly difficult on Saturday, Spithill said, describing the first day of racing in Cádiz as ‘one of the most challenging days of racing we’ve had in SailGP."
“Even keeping the boat sailing well in a straight line was difficult,” he said, “but going for a gybe - especially around mark one - was probably the toughest part of the racetrack.”
Elsewhere, Spithill complimented strategist Erika Reineke’s debut event with the team and predicted her addition to the roster ‘paying dividends as the season rolls on’.
“Erika did a fantastic job,” he said, “she’s a real team player who fit into our team ethos straight away - a great talent.”
The league’s nine F50s will next meet at the Dubai Sail Grand Prix on November 12-13.