Aarhus in August was not simply the host city for the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix – the fourth event of Season 2 – it also became the latest SailGP testing ground.
Prior to and following the racing in Denmark’s second-largest city, our F50s were out on the water kitted out with the new cutting-edge 29 meter wing for testing.
As of the DenmarkSGP, there were two wings approved for use in racing – the 18m wing for high winds, and 24m wing for the medium wind range.
And before too long the 29m wing should also be approved for use, which will allow our F50s to race in the lowest wind ranges.
The larger height and surface area of the wing means more wind can power the boats, making sure they can foil when they would otherwise not be able to if fitted with the existing mid-range 24m wing.
During the testing in Aarhus, SailGP’s Head of Systems, Alex Reid, said: “We are testing the 29m wing at the moment – which is the biggest of the SailGP wings.
“We need it in the light winds, when there is not enough wind to get the boats foiling. Having that extra height and area will allow us to get out the water and foil in racing.
“There are basically two stages in the testing process; the first in the shed, and the second on the water during some sea trials.”
United States skipper Jimmy Spithill was tasked with driving the 29m wing ahead of the DenmarkSGP, while Nathan Outteridge, the Japan Driver, got the same opportunity post-event.
The Spanish wing was used for all the tests, though it was not attached to Spain’s F50 – with both the US and Japanese boats taking to the water instead.
“It’s a pretty exciting day for all,” said Spithill. “The Spanish 29m wing, which has the fiber optic cables in there so we can see what’s going on and the engineers and designers can keep track of it, is going into the US platform.
“It’s a great thing for the sport because it allows us to continue foiling and continue racing regardless of what the wind conditions are.”
Japan SailGP Team Wing Trimmer Chris Draper, who tested the wing as part of Spithill’s team prior to the racing in Aarhus, explained first-hand the sailing differences between the three wing sizes.
“It makes manoeuvring harder, but actually getting up and going is a little bit easier,” said Draper.
“It feels like driving a truck when we’ve been driving a race car before.
“But this is definitely very valuable testing.”