United States Driver Jimmy Spithill has said home fans ‘deserve better’ after the team floundered in the first day of racing in Chicago.
The U.S. SailGP Team finished the day with a 8-9-7 racing record and at the bottom of the leaderboard in a performance littered with errors. Meanwhile, Phil Robertson’s Canada finished at the front of the pack, followed by Great Britain and New Zealand. Teams battled tricky conditions of choppy waters and unpredictable wind shifts that saw Chicago live up to its name as the ‘Windy City’.
Reflecting on the day, Spithill said the team would ‘regroup, learn the lessons and move on’ ahead of racing resuming tomorrow.
“We’re really disappointed - certainly all the fans deserve better,” he said. The main failing of the team was an inability to ‘execute clean laps’, he said. “It’s as simple as that - there were too many mistakes and too many errors.”
The team’s poor performance came as a surprise, Spithill said, following positive training sessions earlier in the day.
“Our training runs before the race were very good but clearly when we got on the track with the other boats we weren’t able to execute clean laps and we need to figure out why.” he said. “It’s hard to say until we look at the footage from the boat and the cameras.”
Due to light wind conditions forecasted for tomorrow, the nine F50s will be fitted with the largest 29m wing. Looking ahead to racing resuming tomorrow, Spithill remained upbeat.
“Tomorrow’s going to be quite a different day and we’re going to the big wings and the much lighter conditions, so we’ve just got to come out and try get a couple of results and keep ourselves in contention for the season.”
On the flip side, newcomer Canada team finished with a consistent 4-1-1 race record. Driver Phil Robertson credited the team’s success to their impressive starting strategy, which saw them consistently among the first boats over the line. Teams had the option to approach the starting line from within the harbour or beyond the breakwater for a slingshot run up. Robertson chose the latter.
“We put a bit of time into assessing the different start options ahead of the race and it was pretty clear that you wanted to start outside the wall and come in fast,” he said. “We managed to come ripping through the gap and come out a lost faster than everyone else.”
The team was frequently leading the pack into mark one and, he said, ‘it’s a simple race from there.’
It was quite a turnaround for the team, who capsized in practice sessions leading up to the event.
“I guess it fills us with more confidence that when it comes to race day we can really push it,” he said.
He also admitted the team, which is using Japan’s borrowed F50 and has Japan wing trimmer Chris Draper on board, has become ‘a bit of a mix’ of the two countries, and the boat has even become known as ‘Japanada’.
“It’s quite a unique set up but we’ve got some people with great knowledge and skill,” he said. “It’s a great team culture - we’re in a good space.”