Switzerland SailGP Team competed at its final event of 2023 this weekend, the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas. The team had a good week in the iconic Emirati city with five days of training followed by two solid race days. Despite having a new flight controller onboard [Nicolas Rolaz] the team were not scared to push hard and showed real progress and steps forward on the racecourse.
t's the second time the fleet has raced in Dubai and once again it delivered one of the league’s tightest and most exciting courses. On day one, Swiss SailGP Team had the strongest starts its ever had, followed by 4, 3 and 1 places round mark one. Unfortunately the team were unable to keep it together in the races and finished with mid-fleet results (6,7,6).
Today, with light conditions forecast, the F50 teams made the decision to reintroduce the 29m wing, its first appearance since the dramatic collapse of New Zealand’s in Saint-Tropez back in September. Despite trickier racing conditions, the Swiss continued to show promising moments and were racing in the mix, but unable to punch through the fleet at the start. With two back-to-back sixth place finishes, the team finish seventh overall in Dubai, its highest position so far this season.
It was a dramatic conclusion for the three highest ranking teams of the weekend; New Zealand, Australia and Canada. In the final race of the day all three boats came together at the final mark rounding, resulting in a tense sprint to the finish. Despite crossing the line in first place, a last-minute penalty denied Canada victory and New Zealand took the event win.
Swiss strategist and grinder, Laurane Mettraux on the day's racing: “Today we raced with the 29m wing as it was pretty light out there, it was quite different as we haven't used this wing for a while. The conditions weren't very easy and it was also challenging to start with all the disturbed air [from the F50s] but we tried to stay in the race and to gain some points where we could. It generally felt like we had a different mindset this weekend and that was really positive for the team and showed in our racing and results. We will keep working this way and push for the rest of the season.”
Driver Sebastien Schneiter on the team’s performance in Dubai: “This week it feels like there has been a click in the team, there’s been really good energy and it feels like we are making some good steps forward. It’s taking us time, so we still have to be patient, but definitely some clear improvements and we are really happy of the outcome of the week, from both the racing and the training.
“We’re still quite a new team, we’ve got Will on the wing which is a really tough role to learn - it’s only his fifth event - and we also had our new Swiss flight controller [Nicolas Rolaz]. Nico did a great job, he’s really impressive and I think he’s going to be one of the best in the future - it looks bright.”
Also, on the water this week, the Swiss loaned its race boat, Eiger, to the league’s Women’s Pathway athletes, for two all-female athlete training sessions. It was the first time an all-female crew has sailed onboard an F50 together. Swiss sailing advisor and coach, Nathan Outteridge coached and lead the session. More HERE.
The 10 strong F50 fleet will next meet in the opening event of 2024, the first-ever Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council (13/14 January).