Australia wing trimmer Kyle Langford has explained the technical problems that plagued the home team in Sydney and initially saw the Aussies declare themselves unable to compete in the first fleet race.
Speaking after the event, which saw Australia finish third overall, Langford said the technical problems became apparent when the team began warm up laps ahead of racing.
As the green and gold F50 performed the first maneuver of the day, Langford followed the usual procedure to lift the foil. This involves Langford pressing a button with his foot that disengages the lock and lifts the daggerboard.
“Straight away I saw something fly out of the board case - something had snapped,” Langford said. SailGP’s tech team was called on board and reported that ‘part of the lock mechanism that holds the foil down had broken’.
The tech team worked for 20 minutes and created a ‘temporary fix’ to get the Aussies sailing again. But during the first maneuver after the repair ‘it broke again’, Langford said. “It broke three times in a row after that so we said obviously this solution isn’t working’.
With no spare parts available, the team decided to employ the services of grinder Kinley Fowler to go down and manually ‘trip the lock’ - something that is usually done hydraulically.
With the makeshift fix in place, Australia made a last-minute dash to the start line of the first fleet race and, despite the issues on board, was the first team to Mark One.
After leading for much of the race, the team’s technical struggles worsened and maneuvers became wild. A key moment saw the team’s F50 buck out of the air at the sixth gate as the team struggled to bring the board down. This allowed France and the U.S. to pass and forced Australia to cross the finish line in third.
Australia picked up a fourth and sixth place finish in the second and third fleet races, leaving them in third overall at the end of the shortened event.
Speaking about the day of racing, Langford said: “We couldn’t get on top of the boat, it was just throwing us around and we were having a lot of unforced errors, so we were more than happy to see we were in third after a day like that.”
Driver Tom Slingsby added that despite ‘not being able to sail the boat at 100%’, the team ‘had a great day’. “We’ve opened up our overall points score lead and the fans and spectators had a great day”.