After a year of learning and experiences for the Great Britain SailGP Team in the championships’ inaugural year, the ‘new-look’ British team is now more eager than ever to get racing on the world’s fastest sail racing boats - the F50.
Following the announcement of INEOS as the new Presenting Partner of the team back in November 2019, it was revealed that Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, will be at the helm of the British team for Season 2. Grinder and Olympic gold medallist, Matt Gotrel, was the second athlete to be announced, with the remainder of the team yet to be unveiled.
Hoping to power the team to the top of the podium, Gotrel, AKA ‘Shrek’, has been training hard over the winter months to keep his fitness levels up in preparation for taking up his physical position as grinder on the British F50 again.
But how does he stay fit and healthy?
“An average week for me entails a lot of grinding, using the Technogym arm bike and 2-3 sessions in the gym working on strength – averaging around 12 hours a week. I tend to throw in a cross-training session on the bike or get in the pool to mix it up.
"My main focus is staying healthy - there is nothing worse than being ill and not being able to train properly as it’s all about consistency. My special diet isn’t very special however! I just keep a fairly balanced diet with some supplements to provide key nutrients and vitamins (e.g. Vitamin C, Omega 3).”
Not only is Gotrel training for the SailGP Championship but having recently signed a new contract with the British challenger for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021, he now has two goals in his sights.
How will the two campaigns complement each other?
“The America’s Cup is all about winning and so is SailGP. We will be going out there to win the $1 million match race at the end of the season! I think the biggest thing that can help when it comes to winning races is experience and being race sharp, and for sure SailGP provides some of the best racing in the world right now.”
The final of Season 1 saw Australia soar to the top of the leaderboard, taking the championship trophy from Japan in the final match race. After a five-month break for the athletes, Season 2 will kick off back in Sydney Harbour on 28-29 February.
Revealing his thoughts on the upcoming event, Gotrel said:
“It has been a long time since we had six supercharged F50s on a start line in Marseille. I think anyone who has raced these boats knows that it is some of the most incredible racing you can do, so we can’t wait to get back out to Sydney; it’s an amazing venue. Last year it was a brand-new team in a new event, which was a great experience, but we knew it was going to be tough to be competitive with the top teams. We took it very much as our training year. This year hopefully we can start the season in better style and get ourselves some more points on the board.
"We have also made some changes to the team for Season 2; although we have new people coming in, we still have a core group, both on and off the water, who can provide the experience of having raced in Season 1. We will have plenty of experience sailing these boats, so I’m hoping we should be able to at least pick up where we left off. The few training days we have in Sydney will be really vital in us getting up to speed quickly.”
SailGP Season 2 will also see a shake up of nations. While China will not be competing this year, the league has welcomed Denmark and Spain, making a total of seven national teams on the start line which is going to make for even more nail-biting action and a very interesting playing field to kick-start the season.
How will the newbies fare?
“The Danish and Spanish will have the same steep learning curve that everyone had last year but they again have people involved who competed in Season 1 so I’m sure they will be more than capable of winning a few races - and you only need to win the match race to come away winners.
“With so much data completely open and accessible, these teams can really accelerate their learnings by looking at what worked in Season 1.”
It's safe to say the British team did not have the home event it dreamt of in its first season, albeit some incredible spectating for the thousands of fans who lined the shore and watched from on the water. With Cowes on the Isle of Wight announced as the fourth venue for Season 2, is the team looking forward to heading back to the home of British yachting, once again coinciding with the world-renowned Cowes Week?
“Having SailGP coming back to Cowes is going to be great. Last year we came away very disappointed having lost a day to too much wind and then crashing in the first race meant we didn’t put on the performance we wanted to for the home crowd. Having the opportunity to put that right in Season 2 is going be awesome, and with the new wings on show we should be able to race whatever the weather!”
The full sailing team for the Great Britain SailGP Team Presented by INEOS will be revealed in the coming weeks ahead of Sydney SailGP, as well as confirmation on the final venues for SailGP Season 2.