The Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez will not only see the return of SailGP to the glitz and glamour of the Côte d'Azur, it will also shake up the racing format to bring fans more entertainment and more drama.
The addition of a sixth fleet race – taking place on the second day of every event moving forward – will add further twists and turns to SailGP’s already competitive global championship.
While the opening Race Day will remain in its current format, the intention is to now schedule four races for Day 2 – adding an extra fleet race before the three-team winner-takes-all Final.
This means that, over an entire event, there will now be a planned seven races in total – six Fleet Races, and the Final.
A statement from Iain Murray, SailGP’s Regatta Director, read: “From the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix onwards, it is our intention to increase the number of fleet races in a regatta from five to six. This means that we will add a third fleet race on the second race day before the Final.
“The overall priority is to hold the Final at the end of a regatta, which means fleet races not started may be removed from the schedule and races in progress may be abandoned if required in order to achieve this. To complete the Final and wrap up the broadcast requires at least 15 minutes. If a fleet race is to be eliminated, the race committee will endeavor to give teams as much advance warning as possible.
“On days where three or fewer races are scheduled, races will be stopped after 16 minutes. On days where more than three races are scheduled, races will be stopped after 14 minutes. On days with four races scheduled, the maximum start time delay that may be requested by a team is five minutes.”
This shake-up of the racing format comes in the wake of the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen, which included three Fleet Races and the Final on the second day of the event after the opening day was cancelled due to poor weather conditions.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of this weekend's racing, Canada driver Phil Robertson said of the revised format: “I think it’s great. We’ve come here to race as we are racers, and if we can squeeze more races into the window then we are super happy.
“And it does change tactics quite a lot, because typically you come into Sunday in a position where you are either trying to defend or really attack, and now that is all thrown out the window. So I think it will be a different series from here on in.”
Nathan Outteridge, co-driver for the Switzerland SailGP Team, even suggested adding more races to the event schedule.
“We should try and push for five races in the future; let’s just keep trying to cram them in," he said ahead of Friday's practice session.