The effect of Switzerland and France’s flight controller swap has been revealed in data provided by the F50 fleet.
The crew swap was announced ahead of racing in Saint-Tropez after France driver Quentin Delapierre poached Switzerland’s flight controller Jason Saunders. In response, Switzerland picked up former France flight controller Francois Morvan as Saunders’ replacement.
In data comparing the three events before and after the swap, the full effect of the crew change is made clear. All data is provided from the races where both boats competed and finished across San Francisco (Season 3 Grand Final), Chicago, Los Angeles, Saint-Tropez, Taranto and Cadiz. All analyzed races took place in winds greater than 28 km/h / 15 knots - conditions breezy enough to foil.
Comparing the events before the swap (San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles), and after (Saint-Tropez, Taranto and Cadiz), it’s clear that Jason Saunders has smoothly integrated into the French team.
One key metric to consider is ride height deviation, which is the result of teamwork between the driver, flight controller and wing trimmer, and measures flight stability by comparing the teams’ deviation to the fleet average. This means the lower the value, the better.
Before the swap, France had a ride height deviation of 317.9 versus Switzerland’s 298.2, but after the swap, France’s ride height deviation fell to 314.8, while Switzerland’s rose to 347.7.
France’s flight percentage time of 81.2% before the swap also rose to 89.2% afterwards. Switzerland’s rose too but by a smaller amount, from 86.5% to 87.2%.
Data from boat handling incidents recorded by both teams across the six events also put France on top.
In the three events before the swap, France experienced 8 boat handling incidents described as ‘foiling out’ or ‘pitching down’, while Switzerland recorded 5.
After the swap, France recorded just one incident, while Switzerland’s stayed level at 5. It’s worth noting that these incidents can be affected by the performance of the driver and wing trimmer, as well as the flight controller, and that Switzerland experienced significant crew rotation during this time, racing with two different wing trimmers and swapping strategists.
Despite France now outperforming Switzerland on flight control, Quentin Delapierre’s team has had a shaky start to Season 4 after an excellent Season 3 performance. The team currently sit 8th on the overall Championship leaderboard, tied on 24 points with Canada in 7th.
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