The United States SailGP Team is finding its groove

16 JUNE 2019News
  • United States
  • Rome Kirby
  • New York SailGP

It’s Friday morning in Saint Tropez, where Rome Kirby is gearing up for yet another sailing event, the Giraglia Rolex Cup. Somewhere in Newport, Mac Agnese and Dan Morris are grabbing a bite to eat before a weekend of racing. Taylor Canfield is busy working on his America’s Cup Challenge, and Hans Henken is training for the 2020 Olympic Games. Their group messenger is pinging from across the US and around the globe, sometimes with SailGP related banter, but often with memes, funny videos, and smack talk. Despite their busy lives, the team is in touch every day and never goes more than a few weeks without getting together.

United States SailGP Team in action in San Francisco

In the month between the San Francisco SailGP and the third event of Season 1 in New York City, the team has been busy with media engagements but also making time to head to the UK to train in the state of the art simulator.

“We went straight to the simulator to get used to the flight controller and committing down that path of having Taylor fly the boat instead of myself,” said US SailGP Team helmsman Rome Kirby. “So hopefully that will improve a lot of areas for us. Between going to the simulator and spending time between events has kept our group together.”

It’s the intensity of the young group from the United States that pushes them to compete hard, but it’s their comradery and lightheartedness that bonds them together.

Taylor Canfield

If San Francisco SailGP was any indication of the team’s progress between events, New York City would be the perfect stage for the young American team to rise to the podium. The group has been going through the numbers and making adjustments to their wing sail and to the way they fly the boat, with Taylor Canfield taking on the new flight control system.

“Our wing set up is different than other teams,” said Kirby, “so we’ve looked at the data, and saw that we struggle upwind. We’re definitely not on pace with Australia and Japan and the British. We have made adjustments there.”

Their challenge in New York isn’t about just “sending the boat,” it’s calculated. The team has been analyzing their ride height, boat handling, and VMG intensely.

“As you get more comfortable in the boat and your skill level rises, I think you are able to send it more and more. Our boat handling has gotten better, and we’ve gotten more confident in the boat, but I think the biggest thing is to be comfortable flying the boat higher. We have to increase our ride height and push harder. It’s more of a time in the boat thing, than a mental thing.”

All that’s left to do for the American team is hit the race course prepared for action. Will the New York City skyline see them capture the podium on their home turf? Only the Hudson River race course will tell.

On board with Rome Kirby