SailGP Season 4 – Sydney Preview

SailGP Season 4 continues on Sydney Harbour today. After a string of events with light breeze and the F50s struggling to foil consistently, all the talk in the lead up to today’s racing has been the predicted strong breeze and which teams will manage it.

Canadian Driver Phil Robertson summed it up as “big boy pants weather” and all the drivers at the opening media conference said their teams are keen for some fast racing.

The weather in Sydney in the lead up has seen delays resulting in a disrupted sailing schedule for all teams, with most having barely any time on the water before the boats headed out for racing.

Titanium T-Foil prototype

The exceptions are Canada who completed a long session on Thursday as part of testing for the new T-Foil design under the supervision of the tech team; and Germany and the USA who were granted time on Friday morning to familiarise themselves with the Sydney Harbour venue.

The only major change in line-up across the teams is with the New Zealand team, where Nathan Outteridge is stepping into the driver role for Peter Burling, who is taking time off for the birth of his first child. Nicolai Sehested is back a the wheel of Rockwool Denmark after Outteridge performed the same role for him at the previous round in Abu Dhabi.

Plenty of attention has been payed to Australian driver Tom Slingsby’s comments regarding the next generation and their readiness to step up and take the reins from the more established drivers in SailGP. With media attempting to draw all the drivers for their perspective, Outteridge summed it up clearly:

“The faster the boats go the more it becomes a young man’s game. But having said that these boats are incredibly technically complicated so experience also matters. There’s a good balance there. Let’s not forget the team’s made up of six people on the water, so if you get your average age down you can carry a bit of age.”

Nathan Outteridge, New Zealand SailGP team.

Saturday’s racing looks set to get underway in 15 knots of breeze easing from the morning, however early showers may see some cloud effect come into play. The F50s will be in the 24 metre wing and high speed foil setup for day one.

The pressure will be on the Australian team at home, with a hungry Canada with fired up driver Phil Robertson champing at the bit for these conditions.

“The coach is definitely trying to breed a new Phil, and he’s doing a good job, but I’m a fighter. I guess it comes across on the racecourse, I’m not going to change.  I love fighting and I’m a swinger and (tomorrow) is going to be a real fight. It doesn’t get much better than Sydney harbour with big breeze so I’m pumped.” Phil Robertson, Canada SailGP Team.

Joining the Canadian and Australian teams looking forward to the conditions are Nicolai Sehested and Denmark. “Not long ago since we were a team that preferred the light winds but we’re moving into a team that enjoys the breeze more now, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow and going out and getting moving.” Nicolai Sehested, Rockwool Denmark SailGP Team driver.

The French team will be looking to repeat their first day at last season’s Sydney event, and the breeze loving Emirates GBR will be hunting for big results to get their season back on track. For the USA, Spanish and German teams it will be a chance to prove themselves in heavier breeze.

Season 4 is very much still for the taking and Sydney is going to be a big weekend!

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