Switzerland SailGP Team is gearing up to compete at the team’s first European event, the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix in Plymouth, taking place July 30 and 31.
This will be the third event in the global championship’s calendar, following opening events in Bermuda (May) and Chicago (June). Nine teams will compete on Plymouth Sound and the action will be streamed live in Switzerland on Blue Sport / Blue Zoom and You Tube at 15:00 CEST both days.
Racing under the Swiss flag alongside driver, Sébastien Schneiter from Geneva, is British Olympic gold and silver medalist, Stuart Bithell (wing trimmer), New Zealand two time Olympian, Jason Saunders (flight controller) and grinders, Richard Mason (GBR), Eliot Merceron (SUI) and Julien Rolaz (SUI). Laurane Mettraux (SUI) will complete the line-up on board as Strategist and two-time Olympian (470 class) and Youth World Champion (420), Maja Siegenthaler, will train with the team pre-event. Jérémy Bachelin supports the crew as a reserve athlete.
The team is looking to build on the experience gained from their first two events, but Plymouth’s Sound is set to be a challenging course and is notorious for its gusty and shifty conditions, with the added addition of tide.
Schneiter said:“It’s great to be racing in Europe this summer and a little closer to home! Overall, we thought the event in Chicago was a positive event for the team and we showed some really good progress from Bermuda, which is the main thing. It’s a tough fleet, the starts are aggressive and the racing super competitive. We still have a lot of work to do but slowly we are getting there.”
The Swiss team will have additional support and knowledge in Plymouth, with Australian gold and silver medallist, Nathan Outteridge, joining as sailing adviser for the first European event. Until recently, Outteridge was driver and CEO of Japan SailGP Team. Throughout his career he has won 19 world championship medals and was also part of the original F50 test team, helping to develop the class.
Outteridge said:"I'm looking forward to supporting the Swiss SailGP Team in Plymouth. The F50 is a difficult boat to master and the SailGP race format is tough for a new team. There is limited training time for everyone so hopefully I can share some of my experience with them and help to fast track their learning.
"I've raced against Seb and Stu for a number of years in the Olympic 49er class so I know them well, they are great sailors, they’ve already made some great improvements and I'm sure they will continue to pick it up quickly."
Schneiter added: “We are really looking forward to having the support of Nathan, his knowledge of these boats and this racing will be so valuable for our learnings as a team.
“When I first started Olympic sailing, in the 49er class, I really looked up to Nathan and followed his career. So, for me personally it’s awesome to have him here with us in Plymouth.”
The Swiss team is also racing for purpose, supporting its main and Race for the Future partner, Stiftelsen VI, to champion equal opportunities. Alongside they are promoting an important call to action, asking competitors and fans worldwide to ‘#BacktheBid’, to see the sport of sailing reinstated in the Paralympic Games in time for LA28.
To raise further awareness, on Friday, three Paralympic athletes and VI Foundation Ambassadors will sail onboard the team’s cutting edge F50 race boat: Paralympic gold medallist and world record holder, Salum Kashafali, (NOR) four-time Paralympian and five-time world champion medallist, Bjørnar Erikstad (NOR) and Britain’s four-time Paralympian, Hannah Stodel.
The official Switzerland SailGP Team x Sail Racing merchandise collection is now available to purchase online HERE.