Ahead of Bermuda, we catch up with Spanish wing trimmer Florian Trittel on Spain's Season 4 turnaround, contending with the top tier teams and defending their Grand Final place as San Francisco looms.

Season 3 was a tricky one for Spain. A slew of disappointing results saw former driver Jordi Xammar replaced mid-season by then flight controller Diego Botin, who took over the wheel for the last three events. Wing trimmer Florian Trittel meanwhile - on the team since it entered the league in Season 2 - remained in place.

Season 4 // Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix // Diego Botin with Florian Trittel Spain

Drastic crew changes and a green driver taking on some of the heaviest wind conditions of the season did nothing to improve the team’s performances, and Spain finished dead last at the back of the fleet. Entering a new season with the ambition of contending the Championship after such a season may well have been ‘wishful thinking,’ Trittel admits, but it was a goal ‘set in place’ at the end of Season 3 nonetheless. “The first thing about these goals is to visualize them, to state them publicly and to really believe in them,” he says.

Season 4 // Close up of Florian Trittel on tech base

Without that belief, he adds, they would never happen. The team entered the new season ‘feeling comfortable with and trusting the new set up’ and was intent on keeping this in place. “We knew coming in that we wanted the same athletes in the same positions,” Trittel says, "in Season 2 & 3, we shook up so many things and we know that in SailGP it’s crucial to have experience on board.”

Season 4 // Diego Botin and Florian Trittel Olympic Hopes and SailGP partnership

With grand ambitions and an established crew configuration in place, the team began the new season with confidence. It paid off, with the team performing ‘better than we expected’. The season opener in Chicago resulted in a 5th and was followed by the team’s first ever event win in the light winds of Los Angeles. The champagne flowed amongst jubilant celebrations, but a sense of unease also crept in. “Some of us defined that result as over-performing,” Trittel explains, “we were aware of it in case our results crashed afterwards - to avoid feeling a deep sense of frustration.”

There have of course been highs and lows along the way, with the team fluctuating from 6th in the season rankings to 2nd overall. But the last three events have seen Spain finish in the top half of the fleet every time, resulting in ‘a big amount of confidence’. This, he says, and the power of belief, is key to the team’s ability to beat the top tier teams on the water. “We’re still not on the same level as the top teams and we’re conscious of that,” he says. “But if we can pull everything off perfectly, we know that we can beat them.”

Season 3 // Spain SailGP Team // Florian Trittel runs across the F50

This confidence is crucial as the fleet enters the business end of the season - there are now just three events left before San Francisco’s season-deciding Grand Final. Spain, currently third on the overall leaderboard, is ‘100% focused’ on retaining that coveted place heading into Bermuda. But it has stiff competition. France (4th) and ROCKWOOL DEN (5th) pose the greatest threats to the team’s Grand Final place. Quentin Delapierre’s France specifically has Spain’s attention, Trittel says, with the team likely to perform well on the flat waters and in the consistent breeze of Bermuda’s Great Sound. “We will be keeping a close eye on the French,” Trittel says, noting how close they came to a place in the Grand Final last season (France finished 4th overall). But judging when to target a specific team and when to play the entire fleet is a difficult balance.

Season 4 // Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix // Spain celebrate on board

“In the last few fleet races, we will start to look at the other teams and judge if we can tack or jibe on someone and if that, as a consequence, means they won’t make the Final,” he says. “That’s definitely something we’ll be looking out for.”

At the same time, he admits, ‘we know so much can happen - one collision can change everything.’ He points specifically to Australia’s disastrous Christchurch event, which saw them docked 8 season points for hitting a race mark. Now sitting in second place overall behind New Zealand, the Aussies are ‘within touching distance’ of Spain, Trittel says. Even they - the three time season champions - ‘aren’t assured a place in the Grand Final’.

Season 4 // France, Spain, New Zealand and Denmark underway

Keeping these individual rivalries and the season leaderboard score in mind while racing is a tricky balance but, Trittel says, ‘we’re excited for what’s to come.’

The APEX GROUP Bermuda Sail Grand Prix takes place on May 4/5.

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