This weekend, Billy Besson and his crew will take part in the fourth and penultimate event of the year in the SailGP calendar in Cowes (United Kingdom). Saturday and Sunday, the very best sailors in the world will face off in their flying F50s in the Solent along the coast of the Isle of Wight. This new confrontation promises high-pressure races with numerous teams having cracked the mythical 50-knot barrier in the first days of training. For this new event, the French team is honing is plan of action and reinforcing its performance team.
After a final session onboard the flight simulator in London 10 days ago, the French team established its new base camp in Southampton for a week of intense preparation before competing in a new SailGP event this weekend. In fairly rough conditions, the team took once more possession of its tricolored catamaran which showed off its new design: blue and red horizontal stripes in homage to the marinière, a symbol of the French style! At the same time, Devan Le Bihan, who injured himself in Sydney and who had been in rehabilitation for 6 months, and Timothé Lapauw, absent in New York, took their marks again onboard the flying catamaran.
50 knots, a historic record!
A new milestone has been achieved in the history of competitive sailing. On Tuesday, the British team led by Dylan Fletcher were the first to brake the 50-knot barrier (92,6 km/h) during training. Other teams have since then surpassed the symbolic mark of 50 knots, with a new record of 51,2 knots for the Australians. “This proves that everyone is progressing and manages to exploit more and more of the power of the F50s” explains Billy Besson, skipper of the French F50 and quadruple Nacra17 world champion.
A momentum at sea and on shore
If the French team was sailing onboard the F50 for the first time in Sydney in February, it has since accumulated hours of sailing. Billy Besson and his crew are getting more and more accustomed to their boat, and are gaining in confidence and improving their manoeuvres, most noticeably in their capacity to stay airborne during foiling tacks.
To follow through with this dynamic, FRA SailGP Team reinforced its performance unit in Cowes. “We have 3 new team members”, explains Matthieu Vandame, wing trimmer and director of performance for the team, “Stevie Morrison is our substitute coach and we have incorporated David Rey and Bruno Dauvier who are true analysts. We really are in a new era of sailing with boats equipped with complex technologies. Our analysts’ mission is to get the data from onboard, analyse it on shore and then debrief with the sailors in order to improve certain processes, manoeuvres or set ups. We are in a precision-dependant sport where all parameters interact. In order to “perform” we need a coordinated athletic choreography combined with numerous coherent technical parameters. Everything can be decided on a split-second decision, so every single detail counts.”
Tune in this weekend to see the blue white and red team in action! Scheduling of the races is still undefined with a front that could come and disturb the completion of the races. To be continued… In the meantime the moral of the French team is good with increased confidence, and as delighted as ever with rock solid determination.
The programme (subjected to change, weather permitting)
Saturday august 10th
3 fleet races starting at 3pm local time (4pm French time)
Sunday august 11th
2 fleet races followed by a match race final starting at 3pm local time (4pm French time)
How to watch the races in France?
Saturday august 10th
CANAL+SPORT in postponed broadcasting at 4:55pm (French time)
Sunday august 11th
CANAL+SPORT live at 4pm (French time)
Hélène Cougoule, journalist at Canal+, will comment the races live with Thierry Fouchier as a consultant
SailGP APP: exclusive photos and videos, full replay of all races (7 days after the event)
Facebook and YouTube: full replay of all races (7 days after the event)
Overall standings after Syndey, San Francisco and New York:
1/ Japan – Nathan Outteridge 140 pts
2/ Australia – Tom Slingsby 139 pts
3/ Great-Britain – Dylan Fletcher 106 pts
4/ United States – Rome Kirby 105 pts
5/ China – Phil Robertson 93 pts
6/ France – Billy Besson 93 pts