- Spithill says ‘all clear’ to race in this weekend’s France Sail Grand Prix
Caught off guard in between practice races today, the United States SailGP Team capsized when a wind gust hit the 95-foot (29-meter) wingsail as the F50 catamaran executed a slow-speed downwind maneuver. Fortunately there were no injuries and very minimal damage to the F50. The team confirmed it will be ready for official racing this weekend, which begins tomorrow in Saint-Tropez for the France Sail Grand Prix (watch live Saturday at 7:30 a.m. EDT on YouTube and CBS Sports).
After the incident, U.S. SailGP Team’s CEO and Driver Jimmy Spithill replayed what happened. “Just before the third practice race we went for a downspeed bear away and got hit with a really large puff,” he said. “We couldn’t see [the breeze on the water] being so close to the sea wall, and with the big 29-meter wing not able to release as quickly, it was obvious we were going to go [over].
“Funny part is we just watched the Swiss have a ‘moment’ and I perhaps made a comment about that. Well …. I guess we got that first one out of the way for the season,” Spithill laughed. “It was probably the softest, slow-motion capsize any of us had ever done. We pulled the boat up, and all good – there was no damage.”
Despite the training interruption, Spithill said he’s pleased overall on the day. “We had two good races and got in some great practice.”
Last year in Saint-Tropez, the American team claimed its first overall event victory, something that Spithill and company are aiming to repeat. After two events in Season 4 (of 12), the team is in seventh place, one point behind Great Britain and eight points away from a podium position.
“That victory was definitely a season highlight for the team; our first win in the league,” said Spithill. “Saint-Tropez has always been a great venue, and we’re looking forward to getting back out there this weekend.”
Hopefully the weekend’s light air forecast exceeds expectations, like it did for today’s practice racing. Regardless, Spithill said the key will be strong starts and getting to Mark 1 in good shape. “If we’re not foiling, the teams aren’t going to be making mistakes. Sailing clean is going to be even more important in the light air.”
How to watch:
U.S. SailGP fans can watch this weekend’s action live at 7:30 a.m. EDT Saturday and Sunday on SailGP’s YouTube channel. CBS Sports will show the weekend’s racing live on Saturday (7:30 a.m. EDT) and Sunday’s finale will show tape delayed at 5:30 p.m. EDT.