U.S. driver Jimmy Spithill has admitted the American team is ‘on the back foot’ coming into Cadiz following the injury of flight controller Hans Henken in Taranto.
Henken, who is ‘recovering well’ according to Spithill, was injured in the third fleet race when he was knocked unconscious during a dramatic nosedive. Despite this, the U.S. team battled back on the second day of racing to scrape into the Final and finish 3rd overall.
Despite this comeback, Henken is unable to rejoin the team in Cadiz. Instead, Taylor Canfield, who previously raced with the American team in Season 1, will be subbing into the role of flight control.
Speaking at a pre-event press conference, Spithill said Henken would be ‘massively missed’.
“We’ve been making some big steps throughout this season as can be seen in our results, so to be honest this is a big blow for us coming into this event,” he said. “When you lose a key team member (…) you have to remain realistic.”
However, he commended Canfield who has been ‘working hard trying to understand the changes in the role and the new functions’ despite being ‘thrown in at the deep end’.
“He’s a very talented sailor, he’s up for the challenge and we’re excited to have him in the team,” Spithill said.
Despite losing Henken in Cadiz, Spithill said the team is ‘motivated to bat above our average’.
“We’re a new squad going into this weekend - we’ll do everything we can, learn as much as we can and let’s see where we stand come Sunday.”
Heading into this weekend’s racing in Spain, the United States currently sits 6th on the overall Championship leaderboard with 22 points.
The Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía-Cádiz takes place on October 14-15, with racing scheduled between 15:30-17:00 CEST.