Podcast: 50 knots of thrills n spills at SailGP
“Dark.” That’s how Dylan Fletcher described his mood soon after coming ashore from a deeply disappointing day on the water at SailGP. Andy Rice of SailJuice.com was there to report on the action.
HERE'S THE RUNNING ORDER OF THE PODCAST...
Now Fletcher has never been one to hide his feelings. His mood is generally written across his face, as it was at the end of a stormy and - for him - a deeply unsatisfactory day in Cowes. He told me in the media centre afterwards: “I think the only day that comes close to this is when we capsized in the Rio Medal Race.”
Fletcher and Team Great Britain had high hopes for a strong performance in front of a massive home crowd lining the Cowes seafront. They had won both practice races and they were the first to earn the bragging rights of breaking the 50 knot barrier a few days earlier on the Solent, even if Australia and Japan were able to match that feat a day just a day later.
Little more than 30 seconds into the first race and already the crowds were witnessing six foiling catamarans come hurtling around mark one and stuffing the bows in. Team USA capsized but survived to compete in the next two races. I spoke to Rome Kirby afterwards about his big day out and the lessons learned...
Despite Rome’s optimism, Team USA’s chances of making that $1m final in Marseille look distant, but you never know, not in this game! A more likely contender for the two-boat showdown in Marseille is Team Japan, despite a really difficult outing in Cowes, as grinder Leo Takashi explained afterwards.
Steering the Japanese boat was the ever calm and collected Australian, Nathan Outteridge. This year he became a dad, and he was holding the baby while taking media interviews, and was going off to change young Jack’s nappy soon afterwards. Perhaps Nathan’s nappy needed changing after such a scary outing on the water, but if it did, he wasn’t letting on...
Now, the standout performers in Cowes were of course Team Australia, who won all three races to dominate the day. Remember, there was no sailing on the Friday or the Saturday because of the storm force winds sweeping across the UK, which was a great shame for the event. But someone who was grateful for the unavoidable delay in proceedings was Tom Slingsby who, having steered Team Australia to a new record speed of 51.24 knots during practice, then managed to bust the wing on the way back to the technical area in Southampton. The wing crossed the boat with too much twist during a low-speed gybe, ripping off the flaps and breaking several control arms.
So Tom was fortunate that racing wouldn’t take place until Sunday afternoon, when three back-to-back fleet races were scheduled. In the end it worked out pretty well for Tom and the Aussie team...
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© Ian Roman for SailGP