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Kirby: Pushing F50 learning curve ahead of New York SailGP

4 JUNE 2019News
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  • United States
On board with helmsman Rome Kirby

With less than three weeks until New York SailGP, we caught up with U.S. SailGP Team Helmsman Rome Kirby between F50 simulator sessions and the team’s whirlwind media buildup for an update on what to expect June 21-22 in New York.

The team jumped two places in the overall standings in San Francisco, what was the biggest contributing factor to those gains?

All the teams are brand new to the F50 and while some teams have sailed together quite a lot prior to SailGP, we are a brand-new team. Our goal has always been to field an all-American team of athletes and because of the event schedule, our time training together had been shorter than we would have liked.

Prior to the San Francisco racing, we basically had an unbroken, two-week training window that our team took full advantage of. This meant spending long days on the water and all of us, our sailing and shore team, rallied to make it happen.

I think that consistent training time showed the talent on this team. We were able to push the learning curve and quickly advance our maneuvering and boat handling skills in a short window.

Since San Francisco, the team was able to take advantage of simulator training in London. What advancements did you make in how to fly the boat?

The new flight controller system installed in San Francisco is a massive step forward and we wanted to focus on learning how we use it to effectively on the water to gain an advantage.

For us that meant sharpening the transitions between the myself and Taylor and building that communication style. Our simulator time has been crucial to this as we work the handoffs between him using the flight controller to control our ride height and my own controls on the wheel.

During maneuvers, every person on the boat is executing multiple tasks and learning a trying out different formulas for flying the boat are crucial. Those maneuvers will be at a premium in New York on such a short course.

What are the various elements in addition to flight controls?

There are dozens of settings on the F50 – board rake, rudder differentials, wing camber – the list goes on and on. When you add them together, there are hundreds of different combinations and we’ve begun building a playbook that will continue to grow.

Add all of this together and that sums up we learned in San Francisco that contributed to our foiling tacks and dry practice laps. The learning never stops.

Predictions for New York SailGP?

The course is short and the wind can be unpredictable which means tactics and boat handling will take a premium over straight line speed. Goal will be to focus on implementing what we’ve been learning and if we execute that well then the results will follow. Looking forward to racing in front of our fans for a second straight event!

To learn more about how you can come support the U.S. SailGP Team at New York SailGP, June 21-22, click here.