United States driver Jimmy Spithill has said the team’s long-awaited first event win in Saint-Tropez proved ‘armchair critics’ wrong following a shaky start to the season.
The team picked up a consistent 3-2-3-1 fleet racing record, securing a place in the Final against Great Britain and New Zealand. An OCS penalty for crossing the line early handed to New Zealand opened the door for Great Britain and the U.S., but the U.S. team nailed a crucial foiling jibe, allowing the team to overtake Great Britain and sail on to victory.
Writing for Red Bull, Spithill said the event win - the first ever secured by the U.S. team in three years of SailGP - was a ‘pivotal moment’ that provided ‘a huge psychological boost’ to the team.
It also ‘proved a few people wrong’, he said, referencing the criticism surrounding the team following 5-8-7-5 event place finishes ahead of Saint-Tropez, including a disastrous performance on home waters in Chicago.
“There was a lot of talk before the racing about what we should or shouldn’t be doing, and about different people on the team and what we should be changing,” Spithill said.
He pointed to ‘the media and armchair critics’ as the ‘absolute last people to listen or take notice’ and hit back that they ‘have never stepped foot onto the battlefield at this level’.
While the criticism of the team so far this season has ‘not [been] enjoyable’, Spithill said it did have some ‘benefit’.
“You see what your teammates are made of, see them under pressure, see how they will respond and, more importantly, treat one another.”
The weekend of racing was defined by variable conditions, with wind gusts of up to 45 km/h on Saturday and light, shifty breeze ranging from 10 km/h to 15 km/h on Sunday.
The first day of racing, which saw all nine F50s exceed 90 km/h and a new SailGP speed racing record of 99.94 km/h set by the French team, was unprecedented, Spithill said.
“Race Day 1 was like nothing we’ve ever experienced in SailGP before, maintaining speeds close to 100 kph on a very tight track, on the edge of control,” he said. The foils and rudders were, he said, ‘pushed to the absolute limit’.
He described the team’s ability to perform in both sets of conditions as ‘a good confidence boost for us’ and said Saint-Tropez ‘provided the most challenging conditions so far this season’.
The racing action resumes in under two weeks with the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz presented by NEAR taking place on 24-25 September.