The United States SailGP Team showed flashes of its mid-season form during Friday’s practice racing at the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney, an encouraging sign for the team in its quest to secure valuable points on the Season 3 leaderboard.
The American team is 11 points out of the overall podium with just three events remaining before San Francisco’s Grand Final May 6 - 7, which CEO and Driver Jimmy Spithill recognizes is going to be an uphill battle for them to qualify.
“But, there is a lot of racing to go,” he said. “We have to take confidence that we were runner up last time here against the Aussies. So we have to get out there and string together two clean days to get the results.”
Strategist Erika Reineke will not be racing this weekend after a misstep during Thursday’s training resulted in a fractured fibula. “It felt great to be back on the boat with the team,” Reineke said. “We were just getting into the mix with practice when the injury happened.”
During a maneuver, Reineke’s shoe caught in the trampoline as she crossed the F50, resulting in a fall on top of her foot. “I am gutted to not be racing with the team and understand the recovery will take some time, but I’ll be cheering them on from afar and know I’ll be back in action soon.”
Spithill said losing Reineke this weekend is a real blow to the team. “She’s one of the best sailors in the U.S. and a key part of the team. [After the accident] in typical Erika fashion, she basically escaped from the hospital with a leg cast and returned to hang out with the team, making everyone laugh again.”
Spithill compared Reineke’s great sense of humor with their new teammate for the weekend, Australian reserve athlete Lucy Copeland. Spithill shared that in “typical Aussie fashion, Lucy jumped straight onto the boat and just started ripping into us. I think her first line was, ‘I’m here to help you win races again’.”
This is not the first time the Americans have utilized the SailGP reserve athlete. Earlier this season during the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez, France’s Amélie Riou replaced the injured Stephanie Roble, and contributed to the team’s first event win.
After Singapore’s lighter-air racing conditions last event, this weekend’s wind forecast promises spectacular action for the fans. Here’s how to watch:
LIVE: U.S. fans can watch all the action beginning at midnight Friday and Saturday (9 p.m. PST) on SailGP’s Youtube channel
REPLAY ON CBS SPORTS: Catch both days racing back to back, Sunday, February 19 with Race Day One at 1 p.m. EST / 10 a.m. PST, and Day Two at 2:30 p.m. EST / 11:30 a.m. PST.