Inaugural event win for U.S. team at Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix
SailGP Team victory at Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix
Jimmy Spithill has led his United States SailGP Team to his first ever SailGP victory, prevailing in light winds at the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez. In the final he battled the in-form New Zealand team of Peter Burling chasing a third straight event win, and Ben Ainslie's Great Britain team.
In a huge contrast in conditions - that saw records break yesterday - today represented the other end of the spectrum with light winds and the F50's racing with a 29 meter wing configuration. After the United States team prevailed in the opening race of the day, race five was abandoned as the boats failed to make the race time limit, and the decision was made to go straight to the final podium race instead of the Super Sunday format that was planned.
Spithill's win revives what had to this point been a deeply troubled season for the United States team so far, with this event marking the first appearance in an event final.
Spithill said: "It's fantastic to get that first win, it's been a long time coming, but it was just an incredible team effort this weekend, and it's great to be on the board at last. We have just been working really, really hard since the beginning of this season. We backed ourselves, we knew we would get there, we just needed to keep learning the lessons and not worry too much about what was said outside the team."
The impact on the championship standings for the United States might not be as strong as hoped as Spithill picked up four season penalty points for an incident with Quentin Delapierre's French team in race five today.
Second-placed in Saint-Tropez, New Zealand now move to within one point of leader Tom Slingsby and his Australia team on the championship table. It was also a third straight event final appearance for driver Peter Burling.
Burling said: "I think the competition has always been super tight, but now to make it three finals in a row for us is fantastic given how close everything is. It's good to see Jimmy back in the mix, he's a great competitor and it's great for the league to have the U.S. back in it."
After missing the event entirely in Copenhagen after training mishaps, Ainslie returned to form and made it into his third final of the season.
Ainslie said: "We have a great team here, it's come through a lot of adversity one way or another these past few events and these past few seasons but we just keep digging in. We know we have the capability not just to win events but win this whole thing outright."
It was home waters heartbreak for Quentin Delapierre and his France SailGP Team as they just missed out on a place in the event final.
Delapierre said: "It's a bit disappointing, I feel like I will learn from this day and the tactics we had set were clear, but I felt like I failed to put them in place today."
In more positive news for the France team, its strategist Amélie Riou filled in for the injured Stephanie Roble onboard the victorious United States F50 for the weekend, earning the praise of Spithill for her efforts with his team.
Riou said: "I'm just so happy to win in France, to do this in front of a home crowd and in front of some really close friends here today was a really special moment I'll never forget. t's been an incredible weekend for me."
Elsewhere Australia missed the final for the second straight event, finishing fifth and Switzerland suffered a two season point penalty for an incident in pre-event training with the United States which dropped them to the bottom of the leaderboard. It was a difficult event for the Spanish SailGP team ahead of their home event, as they finished in seventh place, although they did move up a place on the overall leaderboard, giving them a morale boost heading into their home event.
The European leg of the championship concludes in two weeks' time at the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz, September 10-11. For tickets, head to SailGP.com/Cádiz and for details on how to rewatch the action from France head to SailGP.com/watch.
SAILGP SEASON 3 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after five events) //
1 // Australia // 42 points
2 // New Zealand // 41 points
3 // Great Britain // 34 points
4 // Denmark // 33 points
5 // France // 31 points
6 // Canada // 29 points
7 // United States // 25 points
8 // Spain // 15 points
9 // Switzerland // 12 points
*United States penalized 4 season points for incident with France
*Switzerland penalized 2 season points for incident with United States