Jimmy Spithill and the American squad are ready to turn the corner of a less-than-stellar start to the SailGP season and climb back into contention – beginning with this weekend’s Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez. “We’ve made some good steps forward,” said Spithill, U.S. SailGP Team Driver and CEO. “Now it’s time to put all the pieces together.”
Spithill predicted today’s challenging conditions might serve as a ‘form guide’ indicator to the weekend ahead since the fleet hasn’t raced in a big breeze recently. Across the four practice races, the American squad looked on point, consistently finishing in the top third while many of the teams struggled to control their F50s, which used the smaller 18-meter wings, in the gusty conditions.
Spithill’s Season 2 focus has been to invest in the American team’s roster. “It’s been part of our strategy to introduce athletes into the team,” said Spithill. “It’s a long season. If you have an injury to one of your key roles, instantly you’re on the back foot.”
For Saint-Tropez, Spithill recruited the top 49er FX and Tokyo Olympian Stephanie Roble to trial with the team this weekend. Season 1 U.S. SailGP Team athlete Mac Agnese also returns as grinder for this event.
Unfortunately in Thursday’s training session, Roble suffered an ankle injury and will miss this weekend’s competition. Her injury underscores Spithill’s point. “It highlights how quickly things can change,” he said. “If you have depth in your roster, it allows the team to get back out there and react.
“Fortunately for us, our French friends have helped us out,” Spithill said, referring to France SailGP Team’s Amélie Riou filling in as strategist on board USA for the weekend.
Earlier this week, Spithill’s fellow Red Bull athletes and Formula 1 Drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Pérez joined the U.S. SailGP Team on board, swapping their Oracle Red Bull Racing suits for wet suits to experience the power and speed of the F50.
“It’s pretty exciting for SailGP that we are attracting the biggest sport stars in the world,” Spithill said. “These guys were out with us in the light conditions earlier this week and were surprised by the power and how quickly things happened on the boat. Just imagine what their reactions would have been in the big wind? I hope more of the world’s greatest athletes come to experience this.”
HOW TO WATCH
U.S. SailGP fans can watch this weekend’s action live at 8:30 a.m. EDT Saturday and Sunday on SailGP’s YouTube channel. CBS Sports will show the weekend’s racing tape delayed on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. EDT (Saturday’s racing) and Sunday’s finale at 8 p.m. EDT.