Rome Kirby Looks to Defend Podium at SailGP Season 1 Grand Final
September 12, 2019 – Only one week remains until the Marseille SailGP Season 1 Grand Final and, after a heroic comeback at Cowes SailGP, the U.S. SailGP Team stands as the only team capable of upsetting the match race final.
According to the SailGP race format, the top two teams overall at the end of fleet racing at the final event compete in a winner-take-all match race for $1 million in prize money.
Australia and Japan currently sit at 169 and 165 points respectively with the United States in third place at 123 points.
Admittedly, the math required to reach the finals equates to somewhat of a ‘Hail Mary’ for the young American squad, however, it punctuates the team’s dramatic improvement all season that sees them defending the podium in the overall standings.
When asked about the final in Marseille, helmsman Rome Kirby cited the team’s improvement and focus on long-term growth as equally important to short-term results.
“When we started the season, practically no one onboard had sailed, much less raced the F50. We have always said our focus has been improving the basics, sailing smart, and building a foundation for the future, and I think the results so far have shown that.”
Nowhere will that ability to defend prove more important than in Marseille, as the British sit only three points back from the Americans in the overall standings following the carnage on the Cowes racetrack last month.
That carnage saw the U.S. team fight past a massive capsize at the start of racing and finish the day with points on the board, completing the final two races in a heavily damaged F50.
Other teams suffered significant damage as well including the British who were forced to withdraw from racing for the day.
“The comeback after the capsize in Cowes really showed the perseverance we’ve been building all year. Many teams had damage. We figured out a way to fight through it and keep racing. That ability to pivot is going to become more important as this season concludes and we look to the next.”
When pushed about the team’s chances at the finals, Kirby emphasized that the team’s focus would be on winning races and then watching how the event unfolds.
“Realistically, Japan or Australia would need to not compete in fleet racing and we would need a spectacular showing of results to make the finals. Who knows, I heard one of those teams might take a few races off to preserve their F50. All we will focus on is winning races, the rest is out of our hands.”
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