Swiss SailGP Team have returned to the water this week, ahead of competing at the first of two Sail Grand Prix events in the UAE this weekend; the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, taking place 9-10 December.
The iconic Emirati city welcomes the fleet back for the final event of the year, event six of Season 4. It’s one of the tightest racecourses, set in a small and enclosed deep-water harbour, and the racing takes place close to spectators watching on shore. Fans back home in Switzerland can also watch all the racing action live on Blue Sport and SailGP’s YouTube channel (11.00-12.30 CET.) How to watch around the world HERE.
It’s been seven weeks since the Swiss team, led by Geneva’s Sebastien Schneiter, was last racing in Cadiz, Spain at the final of the season’s back-to-back European events. The team have now arrived in Dubai, for a series of training sessions ahead of hitting the racecourse this weekend.
Making his SailGP racing debut this week is one of Switzerland’s top young sailors, 24-year-old Nicolas Rolaz, who joins the team as flight controller. Rolaz, a former Optimist World Champion and Laser European Cup winner, races alongside his brother, Julien Rolaz, one of the team’s grinders. Completing the Swiss line-up is Will Ryan (wing trimmer), Laurane Mettraux (strategist) and grinders Eliot Merceron and Jérémy Bachelin. Sailing advisor Nathan Outteridge will be supporting on shore during the weekend, in SailGP’s pit lane-style coaching booth.
Driver Sebastien Schneiter said: “I’m super excited to be back in Dubai, I think it’s a great venue, there’s warm weather, steady breeze and flat seas, and with flat water we usually get some really nice foiling conditions.
"To have this training period before racing will be good for us as a team, to get things rolling again. Then having Nico with us for the first time on the flight we need to really make the days on the water, leading up to weekend, count. These past few days he has done a great job already! We have set ourselves some simple goals for the week and will move forward from there.”
CEO Tanguy Cariou said: “It will be a big week here in Dubai on and off the water and a good way for us to end the year. We are nearing the halfway stage of the season now; we’ve learnt a lot over the past five events and are really happy to be back here again. We know the venue from season 3 and we like sailing here, it’s a great set up and the conditions are perfect for the F50s.
“We will make the most of our additional training sessions, it gives us time to sail together as a new line up, and time for Nicolas to settle into his new flight controller role.”
Also on the water this week, the team will loan its race boat, Eiger, to the league’s Women’s Pathway Programme athletes, for an all-female athlete training session. It will be the first time an all-female crew has sailed onboard an F50 together. Nathan Outteridge will also coach and lead the session.
Cariou continued. “The F50 is such a technical boat, the only way to develop in the roles is time onboard. So we have offered our F50 to the league’s female athletes for a training session, they will take it over! We really support SailGP's Women’s Pathway Programme and want to help the athletes and league to move it forward."
In other SailGP news, Jimmy Spithill announced he will depart Team USA to set up Italy SailGP Team. Taylor Canfield will now lead the USA on the water and Spithill will sub in for Tom Slingsby in Dubai, who will not attend the event. Australia currently sits top of the Season 4 Championship leaderboard.
After Dubai and to kick start the new year, the F50 fleet will race at the first-ever Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council (13/14 January).