As SailGP’s eight national teams ready themselves for the fourth event of Season 2, the waters of host city Aarhus played a key role in the continuing development of our cutting-edge F50 catamaran.
The City of Smiles this week hosts the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix, and on Monday a mixed-team crew took to the water to test out the F50’s 29 meter wing for the first time ever.
The 24m wing used in Season 1 was added to ahead of this campaign, with a shorter 18m wing debuting at the season opener in Bermuda; it was while equipped with this 18m wing that Great Britain broke SailGP’s racing speed record on the Great Sound.
The development of the shorter wing allows SailGP events to take place at higher wind ranges, with the 18m wing typically used in the 20-30 knot wind range, while the original 24m wing can be used between 4 and 24 knots.
And now, with the creation of a 29m wing, SailGP’s total wind range increases further to allow racing to take place in the lightest of breezes.
The new wing took to the water for the first time on Monday, with United States Driver Jimmy Spithill skippering a wing testing crew in Aarhus, with Japan’s Chris Draper among those also onboard. Spithill's US boat was used for the test, although onlookers were treated to a peculiar sight as it was the Spanish wing which rose high above the Stars and Stripes.
Speaking upon his return to shore, Spithill said: “Today we went out and had 10-12 knots of wind, so we got to see [the wing] in the upper end of what we think would be its wind range.
“Structurally it was all okay, and we learnt quite a lot.
“The tech team, especially the engineering and design team, are happy, because it got sailed up-range and we pushed it. Now we have to go through all the data and the numbers and see if it got to its workloads and see if it got close or overloaded at any point.
“But from what we saw in the water it all seemed pretty good.”
As SailGP is a one-design class, all teams use the same equipment in every race, and developments such as the 29m wing are shared across each boat.
This willing sharing of information and accessible talent pool is something Spithill believes will only benefit SailGP and the teams in the long run, as everyone is working together to create faster boats and even more thrilling racing.
“One of the coolest things with SailGP is that it is a collective effort in terms of developing and upgrading the fleet, because you are not hiding secrets,” continued the US Driver. “The entire fleet gets upgraded together.
“That means you get to work with all the other teams. For instance, Chris Draper was onboard with us; he trims the wing in the Japanese team and we were sharing ideas. That is something new, because typically you are keeping your intellectual property in-house, but with SailGP you get to work together to get a better solution.
“The big test we still need to perform is the real light-air conditions we haven’t yet had during testing, and to line up the standard 24m wing.
“That should be the real test: the 24m wing vs the 29m wing with three people, and that will really decide whether it has a position in the fleet.”