Racing got underway yesterday at the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix in one of Italy’s southernmost cities, Taranto. The Canada SailGP Team lined up against eight teams in the most challenging, top end conditions that the fleet has seen to date.
With winds gusting to over 50 km/hr, it was full on for all the teams both before and during racing. Phil Robertson and the team sailed conservatively, keeping everyone safe and the assets intact. Finishing the day in fifth, the team were well positioned to climb up the leaderboard on day two, but wrapped up the weekend in fifth overall.
Sunday’s conditions were the exact opposite of Saturday. Racing with the 24m wings, light air boards and only four crew onboard, the teams did everything to stay on the foils in less than 10 km/hr of breeze.
At the start of race four, five teams were over early, including Canada but the worked its way back to finish fifth and were still in the mix for race five. Finesse and patience were key today.
The moment of the day was on the final downwind leg in race five, when Canada overtook four F50s, with 100m to the finish and seconds before the 16-minute time limit expired. The shuffle at the last gate, with Canada and Germany passing France, secured a spot in the finals for the Americans.
The wind did not however, hold up and the final race was abandoned. The event standings after race five remained as they were, which translated into another event win for Sir Ben Ainslie’s Emirates GBR team.
Driver Phil Robertson said: “It was difficult. It was very light out there today. You needed some runway to make it count. We missed the first start today by 0.1 of a second! Then in the second one, we were in a good position, but just couldn't get the boat rumbling. Once you get rolled by one boat, you get done by quite a few.”
“We had a nice last downwind in the last race. We passed about four boats, so we got that one right. But is definitely not easy to do that consistently. We will see what Cadiz throws at us.”
Strategist Annie Haeger said: “The trickiest thing about sailing today was that the pressure was not touching down consistently, so there wasn't really a pattern to it. It was a head out of the boat day, to try to keep your speed.”
“It was my first race as four up. I don't really look like a grinder, but I did my best. I think we showed a lot of mental fortitude in these tough conditions.”
Powered by RBR and the Canada SailGP Team, the weCANfoil development program continues to strengthen and provide international opportunities for young athletes. Joining the team in Taranto as a SailGP career intern was weCANfoil development athlete Jackson Macaulay of Halifax, while Agustin Ferrario, Program Director for weCANfoil, was also onsite as Head Coach for the SailGP Inspire programme.
From here the fleet heads to Cadiz for the Spain Sail Grand Prix on 14-15 October, the last European event for Season 4.