Denmark SailGP Team driver Nicolai Sehested reflected on a day of mixed fortunes after Race Day 1 of the Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto.
The Danish team, presented by ROCKWOOL, sits in seventh place in the standings at the half-way point in Italy, and Sehested rued some some costly errors in the first three races of the Grand Prix.
“We’ve had our ups and downs today,” admitted Sehested. “We sailed well a lot of the time, but the few mistakes we did make hurt us.”
The red boat’s afternoon got off to something of a false start with a penalty on the line during the first race of the day, and Sehested explained that his team had been eager to add some aggression into their approach.
“We’ve been working hard on our starts, and pushing a bit harder,” he revealed. “I think that first race could’ve been a lot different if we didn’t get the penalty. According to our software we were 0.3 seconds behind the line, but I think the learning for us is that we have to leave a bit more margin in those instances – even though we want to push hard.”
The Danish boat went on to finish in seventh place in the first race, and followed up with a fifth and a sixth spot, respectively.
“The second and third races weren’t the best starts on our side, but we sailed well and held our own. We had good speed, did a lot of things well, and we’re in the mix going into Race Day 2.”
The event marked the debut SailGP action ever to take place in Italian waters, and the stunning venue wasn’t the only first of the day, as SailGP Race Management made a rare call to reduce crew numbers onboard in the face of light winds.
Race rules state that, in breeze of 8 knots or less, crew weight can be cut in order to preserve racing – and all teams were instructed to race with just three athletes onboard, instead of the usual five.
“It’s definitely strange lining up with just three onboard the boats, and it changes your role a lot,” said Denmark SailGP Team driver Nicolai Sehested. “You’re sailing without grinders, so it puts added focus on the driver, wing trimmer and flight controller to both power and control the boat. I do hope we’ll be back to full strength on Sunday, and the conditions look a bit better – that’s where the racing really hots up.”
As the eight-strong fleet of F50 boats racing in front of Taranto’s iconic Castello Aragonese, United States SailGP Team, led by Jimmy Spithill, took the day’s plaudits with two race wins, to top the standings at half-time in Italy.
And Sehested believes that the Danish boat – which has double Olympic champion Iain Percy’s support as coach in Italy – has everything to play for on Race Day 2, with the points close between the last five boats.
“I think we’re growing in confidence and showing that we can hold our own in what is probably one the most competitive and decorated fleets in the history of sailing. It’s not so much about protecting the boat now – we’re ready to mix it.”
Italy Sail Grand Prix: Race Day 1 – Rankings