The United States needs to make some ‘big changes’ going into Season 3 to shake off the ‘vanilla’ performance of Season 2, SailGP’s podcast has been told.
Speaking about the team on the second episode of the Deep Dive podcast, SailGP’s international broadcast commentators Stevie Morrison and David ‘Freddie’ Carr said Driver Jimmy Spithill had done an ‘awesome job’ to get into the Grand Final but needed to step up and start winning events.
The team, which failed to secure any event wins during Season 2, were ‘second relentlessly’, Morrison said. He praised Spithill’s consistency but argued the team’s Grand Final performance in San Francisco fell flat.
“I think he did a very good job over the whole season getting them into the Grand Final but I thought the team’s approach to that weekend wasn’t right,” he said, adding, “Ultimately I don’t think they ever looked fast enough.”
Carr agreed: “I watched their practice and their first day of racing and I thought - what on earth is this?”
“Their boat performance was not good enough all weekend to be honest,” he said. “It was a bit of a vanilla weekend for them and they’ve got to shake that off pretty quickly and make some changes.”
One of these changes is the signing of Flight Controller Hans Henken. However, former Flight Controller Rome Kirby is still listed as part of the US team. This decision was described as ‘a massive move’ by Carr.
“[Henken] is bit of an anomaly in the fact that he hasn’t come out of Olympic class sailing or America’s Cup sailing as such - he is a Moth sailor,” he said.
He pointed to Henken’s background, which includes a Master’s Degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Stanford University, and claimed his appointment signifies ‘a very different approach’ to Kirby who is ‘a sailor through and through’.
“They’ve switched from that fly by the seat of your pants style of sailor to what I can only assume is a very analytical guy,” he said.
Morrison agreed, arguing that Henken will be the sailor to “keep an eye on” when the season gets underway with the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess on May 14-15.
He reflected on Spithill’s decision to introduce Henken. “Maybe this is a change where Jimmy Spithill thinks if we keep doing the same thing, we’re going to stay in the same place and we need to take a risk. For me - taking Rome Kirby off the boat? That is a risk”.
The Deep Dive podcast is available on all major podcast platforms and will feature new episodes ahead of each event of SailGP Season 3.