Motivated by a message to “go out there and crush it” from injured teammate Hans Henken, the United States SailGP Team sailed its best day yet with third- and first-place fleet racing finishes at the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto, and earned its first Season 4 final, resulting in third-place overall.
“Clearly we were racing with a lot of purpose today,” said Jimmy Spithill, U.S. SailGP Team driver and CEO. “Without a doubt, this was the toughest event we’ve ever had as a team given what happened with Hans yesterday. He sent us a message this morning to get out there and ‘crush it,’ and yeah, we did. I’m really thankful to the team for really focusing on the day and getting some good results.”
Henken was injured Saturday when the U.S. SailGP Team’s F50 catamaran crashed off the foils and submerged the leeward hull where Henken was positioned, knocking him unconscious for a short time. Spithill went to the hospital after the incident, reporting back to the team that Hans was in good spirits. Henken will stay in hospital for another night under observation.
“I think this may have been the first time in my career that every single person was cheering for us,” said Spithill, referring to the solidarity shown by fans and competitors alike in support of Henken. “You always want to win, but I feel like we had the extra motivation and definitely the extra energy today.”
Unfortunately, during the final race today the wind evaporated, leaving the powerful F50s parked. The 16-minute time limit elapsed and despite the U.S. leading, the race was terminated. This meant the overall results returned to previous standings: Emirates Great Britain, Australia SailGP Team and U.S. SailGP Team in first, second and third place overall, respectively.
While this weekend’s performance did not affect the overall Season 4 standings – the team is still in sixth place – they earned key points to consolidate the gap and are now only seven points out of the top three.
Spithill acknowledged the team will be identifying a flight controller replacement for its next event in three weeks (October 14-15), the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Andalucía-Cádiz.
WATCH IT AGAIN
U.S. SailGP fans can re-watch this morning’s racing later today on CBS Sports at 4:30 p.m. EDT; or both days are available on SailGP’s YouTube channel.