Drivers Press Conference – Mubadala United States Grand Prix

I prefer to be in the position as favourite because we have proven we can perform under pressure time and time again.

Tom Slingsby, Driver Australia SailGP Team


All eight drivers shared their thoughts on Friday morning ahead of the SailGP Season 2 Grand Final at the Mubadala United States Sail Gran Prix in San Francisco.

Tom Slingsby and the Australian team are being billed as favourites to take out the title, but there is plenty of action to come before the  

The lead up to the event has provided plenty to talk about, with USA and Australia, both already through to the Grand Final race, capsizing in training during the week. The USA didn’t suffer damage, however Australia will miss Friday practice racing with repairs required to their wing.

Adding to that is Spain electing to change drivers, replacing Phil Roberstson who will join Canada as driver for Season 3, with Jordi Xammar. 

Watch the Press Conference


Key Points

Jimmy Spithill, USA SailGP Team

Q: A lot of adversity throughout the season but you’re here; is it a sign of good leadership?

It’s a sign of a good team; we’ve been tested more than others, but we’ve got the best lineup I’ve ever seen and I’m really proud of us. 

But the job’s not done; we’ve been fortunate to qualify but everything can change in a second as the Aussie capsize showed.

Some of the teams that aren’t in the final are proof that this is the most interesting racing circuit on the planet.

Q: Talk about the capsize (earlier this week) and your special guests

Well, we had a failure with an electronic system for the wing and went over with Kai (Lenny) on board. It was good to get it out of the way, we did a full recheck and we’re ready to go.

We had Kai Lenny and Jamie O’Brien on board (as guests during the week); to have them on with us and say “it was absolutely crazy” given their impressive background gives the sport real credibility.

Q: What would a win on Sunday mean?

It would mean 1 million dollars.

Q: What makes you the underdog?

Well, Tom is the defending champion and Nathan was also in the final and had the million in his hands but it slipped through. They’ve done more time than anyone else in the boats; we’re a brand new team and at our first event we got taken out by Nathan. We’ve rallied, looked at the data and are doing our best to bridge the gap.


Tom Slingsby, Australia SailGP Team

I feel like we need a violin playing every time Jimmy tells us how hard done by us he is. (laughter)

I prefer to be in the position as favorite because we have proven we can perform under pressure time and time again. It was a tough day yesterday because we always push to the maximum and the timing was unfortunate; thankfully it didn’t happen today.

The tech team and shore team are working tirelessly to get us ready to go by tomorrow. We might get a system check on the water today, but most likely the team will be working into tonight.

Q: What was the moment like yesterday?

Frustration came first, since it was our last maneuver for the day. We messed up a few tiny details which combined to cause the capsize. We definitely created a lot of work for a lot of people.

Q: Does this make you stronger coming into Sunday?

Yeah, I haven’t done any real starts in this past week so we’ll be missing out on those today. We’ll watch racing, review footage and exploit the weaknesses we see of our adversaries.

Q: Could your temper cost you the win? 

I have a temper, it’s known on the boat as the Red Mist, but my passion is also what brought us to the top. I need to keep my cool, and make sure I don’t cost our team the million dollars. But, it’s also what makes our team really good. With the conditions here we’re really happy with our position.


Nathan Outteridge, Japan SailGP Team

Is it temper or passion?

I think Tom has a lot of both, I’ve known the mist a long time.

Q: Did you think you’d be in this position?

I hoped we would. Funny how things unfold.

Put ourselves in the position to be here. We’ve been known for light air, have been working hard on our skills in heavy air.

Q: What are the changes made to the team

Heading into Sydney we knew we were lacking a little on power on the handles. Made some crew changes that we are still working through.

THe 30kg extra crew weight making difference in straight line performance.

Q: Are you afraid of Tom or Jimmy?

Neither; give them a wide berth and we’ll be fine

Jordi Xammar, Spain SailGP Team

Q: This is your debut, a lot has changed in the past 24h. What are your thoughts at this moment?

As a sailor, it’s the moment you’ve been dreaming about. Not too long ago I was running behind these guys in Bermuda asking them for a picture; now I’m here, competing against them for 1 million dollars.

The team is ready to take this opportunity since it’s the first time a fully Spanish team will be racing on an F50.

Q: How do you feel being the driver?

It’s our dream and I’m very happy but it’s also a great responsibility. 

The last hours have been very crazy, but I’m now fully focused on sailing; it’s what we like the most and what we’re best at. 

Q: Is switching at the last minute risky?

Of course, but team spirit and the future of our team are the most important. Training was  a bit tough and we took a decision; it may not be the best in the short term, but the team chose. When all your teammates tell you they want to race with you, you have no choice.

Q: How does it feel with Phil (Robertson), Canada is looking at you?

Thankful to phil for all that he’s done; at the same time we’re in sailgp as a team and we want to beat these guys. Realistically we are far from their performance, but we want to beat them.


Questions from the floor

Q: Twice boat been back in shed for repairs, how does it feel on the water

Nathan Outteridge 

It’s still white, still functions the same. All one design, all feel the same. Can’t really tell the difference to before the incident.

Credit to SailGP boat builders that when boats come back together they are as good as new

Q: Tom what is on the repair list

Tom Slingsby

Extensive damage, 80-90% to the wing

broken flaps on the wing when it hit the water

The hull is not too bad, some electronic boxes and damaged farings but wouldn’t prevent racing today. Need to rebuild flaps and control 

Request to tech team, 20 minute test sail this arvo, but probably not. 

Most likely repairs into the night and test sail in the morning, on the mooring before racing.


Ben Ainslie, Great Britain SailGP Team

Q: You’re sporting a new look at this event, tell us about that.

Excited for the rebrand; it’s about our purpose partner 1851 trust. Stem crew, providing a digital education for our youngsters. Provide a platform to explain climate change and how they can make a difference.

Q: Season championship; are you disappointed with your results?

Yes. We had the ability to win events, but clearly we’re not here. Spent a lot fo time thinking about our mistakes and what we did wrong. We have a fantastic team and the overall package, just need to eliminate mistakes.

Goal was to make it into the final. 

Q: What about “That crash” in Sydney

Another disappointment. Going well that weekend, misjudgement in start that put out not just the race but the season

Have to move on, big opportunities here.

Q: Diversity, benefits of Women’s Pathway

Having hannah on board is a massive bonus, she’s a great sailor in the olympic arena. Brings a lot of experience on and off the water, especially on the sustainability aspect. Hann diamond sails with us today, and we’ll have others. Hattie Ridgers sailed with us the last 2 days and did na incredible job. Neve been on an F50, went straight into it and loved it.

Q: What do you love about impact league?

Huge potential both in SailGP and other sports. We’re all competitie and want to win on water. Peter set the standard, means a lot to us all. Important tha we compete to the fullest there as well


Peter Burling, New Zealand SailGP Team

Q: You’re leading the Impact league

We wanted to really win it this first season and we’re blown away by the effort of our team.

Q: Coming to SailGP – has it been a challenge you were expecting

It’s been a challenging season; the 1 thing we didn’t understand is how hard it is to catch up once youre behind, especially with the deficit in Europe due to AC and Olympics prior commitmens.

Q: Grand Prix win this weekend still up for grabs, additional prize money, is that motivation

Yeah definitely, between us and Spain it’s tight for the 4th position. It gives you a small chance of being in the final. Have a good event to close out the season

What are you doing to put youreself in a better position for next year?

After Sydney went and had a look at every area. Ray Davies on board, breaking down roles and responsibilities,

Looking at training this week been making good gains and looking forward to seeing what that translates into

Nicolai Sehested, Denmark SailGP Team

Q: Was the home win in Denmark big achievement?

The bigger picture is more important, we’re here to compete for it all. We knew it would be difficult but we’re focused on the long term goal, of season 3. Looking to a strong start in bermuda.

Q: New entries canada and switzerland. How hard is it to be competitive?

We entered as a full danish team; swi and can being developed nations is easier, for us it was different being 100% danish. Easies for them with international sailors.

Q: Is sailing on San Francisco Bay exciting? What’re you looking forward to?

A lot of action on the water, it’s probably not the last capsize this week. there;s a lot still to happen. Very interesting to watch, the guys to our left (PB, BA) a good chance of having three races on sunday not two


Quentin Delapierre, France SailGP Team

Q:What goals did you set for your team?

Huge thing for me in cadiz and a windy week for a rookie. Just meet the team, we had to build the whole dynamic and setting concrete goals for the team. Difficult for a rookie, but at this point I’m very happy with our work etiquette, improving day after day.

Simple and efficient dynamic on board.

Q: Do you have any advice for Jordi?

I’ve known Jordi for one and a half years, from before the olympics. He’s a really good sailor, and tough worker, he will do well for sure. He just needs to enjoy the ride since we’re so lucky to be here.

Q: New faces in the team this week. Will it shake up the team?

We’ll try to be 100% national in Bermuda; Leigh Macmillan was a huge asset with us. at the moment’s he’s staying with us.

Q: Who will win it all?

I don’t know, surprised about the australian and american capsize. Focused on the final and pushing hard.


Who wins? I’m tipping an upset, Peter or Ben.


Looking forward to how it plays out, southerly really interesting on sunday.


Very tight, Australia if it’s blowing. It’s going to be a good show.


Questions from the floor

Q: Every venue is different. It is an iconic venue here. What challenges are unique to San Francisco Bay?

Ben Ainslie

One of the most special venues. Sydney, auckland etc

Tidal gradients, changes to how wind blows over course. Cha One of the best for these boats.

Q: San Francisco Bay kicked up this week, how is that different to Denmark


We are pretty used to this. Like sailing in Denmark, its windy and cold. As Ben mentioned, but waves are not good for these boats, that will be interesting.


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