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Shake up for the SailGP Final?



27-3-22


So, who would have thought the local rock star, Jimmy Spithill would be so deep in the fleet on his home waters?

Who would have thought that a young Spanish driver could get into the mix at short notice?

And who would have guessed that after a dramatic crash in the previous event in Sydney, that the British were actually in with a chance of getting to the $1million dollar final?

Admittedly it will take a major crash by one of the top three teams along with a consistent performance by Ainslie and Co. to achieve this, but after the last few days it would appear that anything’s possible. It would be ‘so-Ainslie’ if it were to happen, coming back from a seemingly impossible position at the last minute.

And when you look at today’s (Sunday) weather forecast for San Francisco there are few who would bet against the extraordinary happening.

Not only is the breeze up there with a forecast of 20-26 knots at 2pm building to 23-30 by 4pm, but the southerly direction brings it over the city and across the famous race area rather than its usual parallel track along the shore. As a result, it’ll be shifty, gusty and provide a cramped course across San Francisco Bay rather than up and down it, so to speak. We’ve seen at other venues how gusty and shifty conditions can really throw a spanner in the works for these teams.

But aside from the weather, the teams themselves have delivered performances that have kept the nerds among us up here at TV central in Ealing gassing for hours.

Jimmy Spithill’s USA team is really struggling to get to the front. The chatter is that they have been experimenting with a new way of trimming the wing that involves altering the twist rather than the mainsheet to control the power. The theory goes that by twisting rather than sheeting in and out you can maintain smoother control and better, more even flight, which of course means more speed.

The Kiwis were believed to be sailing like this in the last America’s Cup with their sophisticated main on their AC75.

I also hear that this is understood to be how the Aussies sail their F50 and with SailGP’s open data policy the American team have been able to look at how they do it and try to emulate it themselves. But for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to be working.

Meanwhile, Tom Slingsby’s Australian team were there or there abouts in yesterday’s three races. Often, they seemed to get themselves tangled up in traffic, notably on a few occasions with the Kiwis who have themselves found new bursts of pace.

But the fact is that in the build-up to the main event, that single 15min race for the big bucks, Slingsby was forced to look at Nathan Outteridge’s transoms for much of the day as the Japan team delivered an impressive performance. Not only were they fast out of the traps at the start in all three races, but they seemed able to dig themselves out of a hole when things went pear shaped.

For the final race today there won’t be much traffic with just three boats, pace will be what counts and pace is what they seem to have.

But, I just can’t help thinking that given the way things have been going this week and with the forecast that’s in store that there’s a curve ball on its way at some point today that is going to throw a bit of drama into the mix.


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