France driver Quentin Delapierre unpacks all the edge-of-your-seat racing action from last month’s KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney.
Going into Race Weekend
After a tough event in Singapore, we headed into Sydney with a lot of motivation. Sydney is a magic venue, especially for a European sailor, and we were motivated to enjoy the racing on the harbor and reach our best level over the weekend.
For us, the practice racing is just a warm up. You won’t see our best racing performances in practice because we are focused on trying new maneuvers or really specific tests. We’re not focusing on the racing, but on the big picture for the team. When you only have one or two days of training at each event you really have to invest in them.
We spent a lot of our training time on Thursday and Friday practicing our starting. The starts in SailGP are always key, but in Sydney you had to factor in the particularities of Shark Island, which caused a lot of shallow wind. I tried out a lot of things on Thursday and Friday, and when it came to racing on Saturday, the picture was clear in my mind. I was confident in what I wanted to do. I wasn’t focused on perfect timing, but on reaching the line as close to our target boat speed as possible. It was a different approach and it worked out well for us.
From the results, it might look like we dominated the racing. But even when you are putting three races together in a row, it’s never easy - especially in SailGP where the level of the fleet is amazingly high. In every race, we fought against the Aussies, the Brits, the Canadians and the Americans, and the races were pretty close with all those teams.
We had a few match racing moments with those teams, which we managed well. We have built a strong confidence on board, which was one of my main goals when I joined the team. The whole team trusts each other and that means, when you are match racing, that you can take your time. If everything happens really quickly in your mind then you will choose the wrong decision. That wasn’t the case in Sydney. While it looked fast from the outside, all the action came slowly into my mind because I knew that my team was completely focused, which allows me to do whatever I want. Kevin (Peponnet, wing trimmer) specifically played a key role in those moments, his intensity in Sydney was unbelievable.
The overall leaderboard
After Sydney, we are now just one point behind New Zealand. Our aim in Sydney was to get back onto the podium and be in good shape for the Grand Final in San Francisco, but it’s always good news when you move closer to the top. The Kiwis had a bad situation in Sydney with their technical problems, but that’s racing and everyone has to manage those moments. It’s great to be just one point behind New Zealand, but we also have the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team just two points behind us, so it will be tight for sure.
Looking ahead to Christchurch
I can’t wait to sail in Lyttelton. For a European sailor, these southern hemisphere venues are extraordinary. I’m looking forward to sailing on those waters and racing the F50 with the team. I just want to put the same momentum on board and not change anything - we just have to trust the process and keep sailing as we are.