Much of the discussion at SailGP’s skipper’s briefing in Marseille, France, went in circles around three topics: the played-out Tom Slingsby v. Nathan Outteridge rivalry for the million-dollar purse, the capsizes of the British and American squads and the weekend’s wind forecast.
Yep. It’s going to breezy—unlike the regatta’s drifter of a practice race, which counts for nothing.
If body language means anything, there was an air of unease across the stage, lined with the usual suspects, from left to right: Frenchman Billy Besson, series leader Tom Slingsby, then Outteridge, American Rome Kirby and Team China skipper Phil Robertson. When the question eventually came around to Outteridge regarding the fragility and handling of the F50 in high winds, he was forthright: “the boats are high-tech and fragile.”
Now, remember, Outteridge has been sailing these 50 footers since 2016. They still make him nervous.
The forecast being “quite nerve-wracking,” he continued, “it will be about minimizing the risks in the fleet racing” as a means to get to the million-dollar, winner-take-all match race.
But there’s also a risk, and a real one at that, that should the wind limit prevent the scheduled match race, scores from the fleet races come into play. A shifty, puffy, small racetrack suit Outteridge just fine. He’s confident and should he keep his white wing pointing to the sky, he’ll be fine. Slingsby says a training session in Sydney with M32 catamarans has hopefully helped whatever communication issues they were having. Fletcher says they’ve learned from their mistakes and have addressed their spastic boathandling. Kirby, channeling his inner Belichick, didn’t have much to offer other than they just need to finish every race. Robertson and the Chinese had their moments in New York, so his approach is play it cool and let the others flip.
As far as the homeboy Besson and his approach to this one and final event of the season? It’s all French to me.
Should the forecast hold true, the races should be plenty quick and entertaining, and it all kicks off at 0830 a.m. EDT Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 20-22. Racing is broadcast live on the following channels:
- SailGP APP (Android or iOS)
- Facebook Live @SailGP
- YouTube @SailGP: Live host broadcast
- CBS Sports delayed broadcast:
- Saturday, Sept. 21 at 12 p.m. EDT
- Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. EDT