The United States SailGP Team sits in a commanding position at the France Sail Grand Prix as Jimmy Spithill seeks to win his first ever SailGP event in the glamorous town of Saint-Tropez.
Two race wins for the USA in light-air conditions sees the team atop the rankings at the end of Race Day 1, three points ahead of the consistent New Zealand in second. Spain rounded out the top three heading into Sunday a further point behind.
The United States’ success in Saint-Tropez was all the more impressive given Paul Campbell-James’ key role onboard just three weeks after fracturing his leg at the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix.
There were no guarantees Campbell-James would be able to feature this weekend, but after spending around an hour on the F50 during Friday’s practice session he was brought into the starting line-up and was vital in the three-up configuration.
“I’m honestly thinking about breaking his other leg,” joked Driver Spithill at the end of the USA’s successful day.
“It’s very dynamic [out here] and full credit to my team for doing a great job and keeping us going. We didn't get off the start line that clean today, so that is something we are definitely going to be looking at tonight.
“But the boys did a great job with some very clean maneuvers.”
A fifth place finish in the opening race did little to suggest the United States were set for an impressive day, with Great Britain instead claiming the win ahead of Japan and Spain.
But, after Campbell-James explained live on air that the USA needed to ‘just beat more boats’ to do better, that is exactly what Spithill’s team did.
The United States took advantage of a shorter racecourse in the second race to rank ahead of Japan - again in second - and New Zealand, and followed that up with their commanding win in race 3. Denmark and the Kiwis finished second and third respectively in the final race of the day, while Great Britain - winners of race 1 - ended up in last place to drop down to fifth in the event rankings.
Australia, who suffered pre-event technical issues, had a tough day on the water. Nonetheless, Tom Slingsby’s team managed two sixth placed finishes despite lacking any computer data onboard and also dealing with steering wheel problems.
The home fans were not treated to French success in Saint-Tropez, unfortunately. Billy Besson’s team were consistently penalised for avoidable mistakes, which saw them pulled back in the fleet whenever looking good. They ended the day second-last in the leaderboard, level on points with the Aussies, and will be hoping for a far better Race Day 2 in home waters.