United States driver Jimmy Spithill has reflected on Taranto, calling it the team’s ‘toughest event’, and looked ahead to the prospect of competing without flight controller Hans Henken in Cadiz.

Henken was injured in Taranto’s third fleet race when the U.S. F50 spectacularly nosedived during a maneuver. He is now out of hospital and recovering, but won’t be able to rejoin the U.S. crew line-up for next month’s Spain Sail Grand Prix.

Season 4 // U.S. driver Jimmy Spithill and U.S. flight controller Hans Henken in Saint Tropez

Following Henken’s injury on day one of Taranto, the U.S. team battled back on the second day of racing, scraping into third on the event podium after narrowly beating France on points.

Spithill said the team’s comeback was directly linked to Henken’s injury - ‘we came in with a lot of purpose’.


“It was without a doubt the toughest sail we’ve had as a team because of what happened to Hans and having to go through that whole experience,” he said. “We came in with a message from Hans saying just get out there and crush it and we just did.”

He added that he was ‘thankful’ to the team for ‘just focusing on the day and getting some great results’.


While former U.S. SailGP Team athlete Taylor Canfield was announced as replacement flight controller on day two of Taranto, the light winds meant teams raced in a four-person crew configuration - meaning Canfield did not compete.

Spithill added the American crew ‘feel quite competitive when we’re four up - no doubt about it’.

Season 4 // United States at the forefront of the F50 fleet during racing on Taranto Race Day 1

However, looking ahead Spithill said the team now has to ‘deal with losing Hans for the next event’. “We need to go back - it’s going to be a bit of a reset,” he said.

After Taranto, the U.S. sit in 6th overall - just one point behind New Zealand in 5th. The F50 fleet will next meet at the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Cadiz on October 14-15.

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