New Zealand’s long-awaited victory in Plymouth shows that good results take time, U.S. driver Jimmy Spithill has said.
Writing for Red Bull, Spithill recognised that last weekend’s Great Britain Sail Grand Prix offered the American team an opportunity to ‘redeem ourselves after such a frustrating’ home event in Chicago.
The team finished with a 9-6-7-6-5 fleet racing record in a performance described by Spithill as ‘a step in the right direction in terms of racing’.
“We made some solid progress - I thought our boat speed was a big improvement from past events,” he said.
However, he admitted the team is still ‘making errors in key parts of the racing’ with a ‘lack of consistency’ and ‘failed manoeuvres’.
Despite this, Spithill remained upbeat and highlighted the long-awaited success of the New Zealand team as evidence that points and podium finishes take time. Plymouth marked the first time the Kiwi team has booked a place in a SailGP Final.
“This is a group that has been sailing together for multiple America’s Cup campaigns, not to mention the amazing partnership and history of Pete (Burling) and Blair (Tuke) and their Olympic success,” Spithill said. “It’s taken that team over a season, and then some, to qualify for a podium race.”
He added that he was ‘encouraged by the Kiwis’ victory’ and pointed to the ‘new crew combination’ on board the U.S. F50. So far this season, veteran flight controller Rome Kirby has been swapped out for newcomer Hans Henken. “We knew it would take some time to settle in,” Spithill said, adding that the team needs to ‘put this into perspective and continue our learning curve’.
Despite a disappointing start to the season for the team, which currently sits in seventh place overall, Spithill said the crew remained resilient.
“If there were a time for us to lack motivation or split apart, it would have happened,” he said. “I’m encouraged that the team is in a positive frame of mind, showing that we’re building the right culture.”
SailGP’s nine strong flying F50 fleet will meet again at the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen, which takes place on 19-20 August.