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Impressive gains as United States SailGP Team climbs overall leaderboard

5 MAY 2019News
  • United States

SAN FRANCISCO, May 5, 2019 - The United States SailGP Team closed out their American debut at San Francisco SailGP this weekend locking in impressive gains as the young, all-American team climbed the overall leaderboard to fourth position. Punctuated by winning both of the fleet race starts today, the team now carries growing momentum towards their second American SailGP event in New York City, June 21-22.

“When you lead races you obviously want to finish it off,” said Skipper Rome Kirby. “I’m so proud of the guys responding after Sydney and how we’re coming together as a group. We have an incredibly steep learning curve to overcome, but I think this weekend has shown it’s possible to quickly catch up.”

The fleet on Day 2 of San Francisco SailGP.

Pre-Race Drama
Five minutes before the first race of the day, there was a hydraulics issue in the wing sail, leaving the team in question if they were even going to be able to race. Thanks to quick heroics by the tech and shore team, they had the repair quickly in place and the Lady Liberty wing-sail back in action. Despite the added stress, Kirby credits the guys for staying focused and ready to race.

“The guys responded extremely well to the pressure and stayed in their pre-start groove,” he said. “For not even being sure we were able to sail the first race, we came out, and we came out firing. The tech team and our shore team did a fantastic job getting us fixed and to the starting line.”

United States SailGP Team in San Francisco.

‘Starting’ to Put the Pieces Together
And come out firing they did. The US SailGP Team nailed both starts today, leading the fleet to the top mark and flying high in front of the cheering, sold-out crowd.

“Improving our starts has been a big priority since Sydney,” said Taylor Canfield, U.S. SailGP Team tactician and flight controller. “Today we changed our approach a bit, setting up a bit further back from the line, and Rome did a great job putting the boat in a good spot. We found a nice hole both times and had great trigger pulls so we were able to hit the line at full speed. It’s a great feeling to lead around the first marks in both races today.”

Since Sydney, the team has prioritized their focus on three key areas: starts, clear communication on board, and maneuvers. Kirby is really pleased with the new team’s progress on all fronts.

“There’s a really good vibe on the boat,” Kirby said. “We took everything we learned from Sydney and have done a ton of studying all the data and the video, and I feel like we’re getting into sync. We’ve all pushed really hard and made massive improvements in how we are sailing the boat and working together.”

US SailGP Team mixing it up with the leaders.

Home-Crowd Support
Despite this being the first of two home events for the team, Kirby downplayed the added pressure of performing. “Honestly, no one puts any more pressure on us than we put on ourselves. We didn’t let it get to us, we just went out and sailed.”

In fact, rather than adding pressure, sailing in front of home crowd added a special element for the team, who also enjoyed having their own personal cheering sections made up of their families, friends and fellow sailors.

“It’s been a really cool experience hearing fans chanting ‘U-S-A’ as team sailed by on the way to race course or cheering us and giving high-fives when we went through the Race Village,” said Riley Gibbs, wing trimmer.

Next Up: New York SailGP
In just over a month, the team will regroup for Event 3 on June 21-22, the New York SailGP.

“We have a talented group, and we’re going to keep learning,” Kirby promised. “When we finished the last race today, we felt like we were just beginning to hit our stride. Looking ahead I think you’ll see more improvement from us; we will be consistently more in the mix and we’ll be fighting it out in the front.

“We can’t wait to get to New York City.”