During the opening press conference for this weekend’s Spain Sail Grand Prix, United States SailGP Team Driver and CEO Jimmy Spithill wanted to set realistic expectations for his American squad as Taylor Canfield steps in to replace the injured Hans Henken in what Spithill calls the ‘most difficult role on the boat:’ Flight Controller.

“We have steadily been building our results, however when you lose a key team member due to injury – those hours together are lost as well.” Spithill was referring to the Henken injury that took place when their F50 crashed off its foils on Day 1 of the Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto, three weeks ago. Henken is now back in the United States and is progressing well on his recovery.

Season 4 // United States leads the fleet in Cadiz practice

Canfield is no stranger to the flight controller position, having raced in that role during Season 1 with the U.S. SailGP Team, and also competed with the Spanish team in that role in Season 2.

“In my mind, the flight controller role is the most difficult on the boat,” said Spithill. “Hans will be massively missed, but Taylor is jumping back into this role and has been working hard to understand the changes to the position since he first flew the boat in Season 1. He’s a very talented sailor and we’re excited to have him with us and to get out and race.”

Season 4 // U.S. driver Jimmy Spithill at Cadiz press conference

If today’s practice racing is any indication, Canfield has quickly acclimated and played a key role to help the team post a result-positive day in the top third of the fleet across all three races.

As SailGP approaches the halfway point of its 13-event season, the Americans have been steadily progressing toward the top half of the leaderboard, capitalizing on the back-to-back European events in France and Italy with a fifth place in Saint-Tropez and third place in Taranto – the team’s first podium finish of the Season.

“We know there is no shortcut in SailGP, but with a new flight controller on board this weekend we are motivated,” said Spithill. “Our goal is to bat above our average – we’ll do everything we can, learn as much as we can, and let’s see where we stand come Sunday.”


U.S. SailGP fans can catch all the action this weekend live or via tape delay. The live action begins at 9:30 a.m. EDT both days on SailGP’s YouTube channel. CBS Sports will air the racing live on Saturday, and via tape delay for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EDT.