SailGP Team USA Places Second in Tightly Contested Race
They don’t call US Sail GP CEO and helmsman Jimmy Spithill “Pitbull” for nothing. Spithill and his crew clawed their way into the finals of the Cadiz Sail GP regatta with a gutsy performance in qualifying races that saw the US boat finish no higher than third…but equally importantly, no worse than sixth. That performance gave the team barely enough points to qualify for the Sunday finale which pitted Season Three leader Australia, France and the US in a winner-take all drag race in front of thousands of cheering fans.
Spithill was impressed with the team’s composure during today’s two hotly contested fleet races, even when key maneuvers did not go as planned. “We had our moments but we fought back,” he said. “There are so many passing lanes out there in these conditions; we tried to keep composed and take the opportunities.
“There were a number of teams that could have made that final. Full credit to the squad for keeping cool and getting the result.”
The U.S. SailGP Team finished Spain Sail Grand Prix just three seconds behind first-time event winner France SailGP Team; with current Season 3 leader Australia SailGP Team in third place. “Hats off to Quentin [Delapierre] and France; they were the most consistent team out there this weekend,” said Spithill.
Earning its second podium final race in as many events, the American squad now sets its sights on the next test, when SailGP heads to the Middle East in November. “While clearly we would have loved to win today, this is a great result for the team to get a big points spread like that. We’re going to try and carry that through to Dubai.”
“We were under real pressure the last two events, but the way the team has stuck together has given everyone a lot of belief and confidence. But, now we have to keep this going.”
Spithill has been clear since the beginning of Season 3 that he’s investing in building depth in the team roster; a strategy that many questioned early on when the team struggled in the standings. He used Strategist Erika Reineke, who trialed with the team for the first time this weekend, as an example of how the strategy is paying off.
“What a great job she’s done; she's a real team player that fit in straight away with everyone,” Spithill said. “At the beginning, we took a lot of [bleep] about what we’re doing and our strategy, but Erika’s been fantastic and we’re excited to add another great athlete to our squad.”
SailGP heads next to the Middle East for the Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, November 12 - 13.
By Craig Ligibel
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