United States driver Jimmy Spithill has admitted the rotation of key crew positions this season ‘hasn’t been ideal’ for the team.
It comes after flight controller Hans Henken was confirmed to be rejoining the squad in Sydney after Rome Kirby raced in the role in Singapore.
Speaking ahead of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney, Spithill also revealed that strategist Erika Reineke, who he regards as ‘one of the best sailors in the U.S.', will not be racing in Sydney after breaking her leg in training.
He described the incident as ‘a real blow for the team’.
Reserve Australian strategist Lucy Copeland will race with the American team in Reineke’s place and has fitted in ‘seamlessly’, Spithill said.
“In typical Aussie fashion, she jumped into the boat and immediately started ripping into us,” Spithill said. “Her first line was ‘I’m here to help you guys win races again’.”
Reflecting on the team’s Season 3 performance, which leaves them in seventh place overall, Spithill disagreed that the team is out of the running for the title and argued ‘there is a lot of racing to go’.
“Australia have a good jump on the fleet, but they’re still concerned themselves and I don’t blame them because things can just change so quickly.”
He added that the team ‘takes confidence’ from their second place finish in Sydney in Season 2. “We’ve just got to string together two clean days of consistent results,” he added.
The United States had a poor event in Singapore, with the team picking up two penalties for crossing the start line early. This penalty sends the offending F50 to the back of the pack and was especially devastating in Singapore’s light wind conditions.
As a result, Spithill said the team had been undertaking data analysis to improve their starting strategy.
He described creating a ‘routine or playbook’ for starting as ‘challenging’ because of the crowded nine-boat fleet and said, ‘no-one is really dominating the starts’.
“There’s definitely a few teams that have the ability to scramble and come back, but the one thing you want better than the other teams is the ability to pass if you don’t get off the start line in good shape,” he said.
Racing takes place in Sydney between 16:00-17:30 AEDT on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney are available HERE. Full broadcast information and How To Watch details are HERE.