Saint-Tropez could host the comeback of Quentin Delapierre’s French team after a shaky start to Season 4, SailGP commentators Todd Harris, Stevie Morrison and Emily Nagel have said.
The 10-strong F50 fleet will next meet for battle on the waters of Saint-Tropez when the France Sail Grand Prix gets underway on September 9 & 10.
All three commentators said they would be closely watching Delapierre’s team, which had a strong event in Saint-Tropez last season, finishing in 4th and setting a new speed record of 99.94 km/h in front of home fans.
Despite an impressive Season 3, Delapierre’s team currently sit 8th on the overall leaderboard after lukewarm performances in both Chicago and Los Angeles.
Morrison pointed to the light wind conditions of both venues, which seemed to prove especially challenging for the French.
“Light winds don’t give a lot of opportunity for the boat handling and team work that the French are known for,” he said.
Season 3’s event in Saint-Tropez saw extreme conditions on either end of the spectrum. Winds blew to over 40 km/h on the first day of racing before falling to non-foiling conditions on day two. This, Nagel said, proves that ‘you never know what conditions you’ll get in Saint-Tropez until you’re there.”
But she said the team’s strong performance on home waters last season, paired with their ‘local knowledge’, could set the stage for a Season 4 ‘comeback’.
Harris agreed, but said the team would have to take it ‘race by race’ and ‘just focus on being consistent’. “If the winds are up, they can get their speed and their confidence back up,” he said.
Morrison also pointed to the additional pressure of performing in front of home fans. “The fact that it’s a home event will be huge for them - we’re definitely early on in the season, so for any team there’s a lot of opportunity.”
Following their 4th place finish in Saint Tropez, France went on to win their first ever event in Cadiz, repeating the triumph in Sydney.
Morrison said the confidence gained by these past two wins would be crucial. “The good thing for the French is that they’ve won an event before, so they know it can be done.”