France team manager Bruno Dubois has given insight into how the French team is preparing for the San Francisco showdown with Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team.
Speaking on the latest episode of SailGP’s Deep Dive podcast hosted by Stevie Morrison and Freddie Carr, Dubois predicted a fierce fight between the two teams to secure the third and final place on the three-boat Grand Final shootout.
France currently sits third in the overall Championship leaderboard with 69 points, while Emirates Team GBR is just one-point behind in fourth. With the thinnest of margins between the two boats, San Francisco is set to host a dramatic battle between the French and the British.
Dubois admitted that Emirates Team GBR driver Ben Ainslie poses a real threat to the French team’s chances of progressing into the three-boat Grand Final.
“There’s one thing I know - that Ben is never as good as when he’s got his back against the wall,” Dubois said. “I’ve seen that in the Olympics, I’ve seen it multiple times - and that’s the reason we all admire his ability.”
However, he emphasized the ability of French driver Quentin Delapierre, which has been heightened since working with psychological sports performance coach Thomas Sammut.
He pointed to Delapierre’s ‘perfect mental preparation’ before the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney which resulted in ‘three bullets’. “Quentin is able to take everything away from himself when it’s time to make a great start,” he added.
As a result, when Delapierre reaches San Francisco he ‘will not change anything in his way of working,’ Dubois said.
“He’s going to go through the regatta and the objective is to be in the Final and we are going to do every single thing we can to prepare ourselves for it.”
He added that ‘every single crew member’ in the French team, from logistics staff to the sales manager, is ‘concentrated on that Final’. “We’ll see where it goes, but we know what we are capable of, that’s for sure.”
Co-host Freddie Carr agreed that Ainslie posed a formidable threat to France heading into San Francisco.
“There’s something around Ainslie’s aura that has historically dug him out of these situations’, he said, highlighting his gold medal Olympic successes, the 2013 America’s Cup and racing in the World Series. “There’s always been an answer to every question,” he said.
Morrison agreed that ‘Ainslie has got a bit of a reputation for being quite good at this’, but highlighted Delapierre’s ability too.
“Quentin is actually a French match race champion - he’s not a mug in a one on one match race environment.”
However, he questioned whether Delapierre’s own admiration of Ainslie’s success could prove a weakness in his armor.
“Quentin’s sharp but he’s the guy who had posters of Ben Ainslie on his wall - can Ben use the fact that he’s Ben?”
The Mubadala Season 3 Grand Final | San Francisco will take place on May 6-7 and will crown the ultimate champion of Season 3.