The United States SailGP Team took a significant step closer to qualifying for the $1 million SailGP Grand Final last weekend, securing a second-place finish at the Spain Sail Grand Prix after avoiding a dramatic capsize by the Great Britain SailGP Team that nearly took the American Team out of the race.
Over the two days of close racing in Cadiz, Spain, the team qualified for its fourth podium final race of the season, though it was forced to take dramatic, evasive action to avoid colliding with the British team’s capsize at the start of the final race.
“Today was definitely on the edge. You’re really in avoidance mode,” CEO and Driver Jimmy Spithill said, referring to the 20 plus knot winds and sea state. “As we all came off the start line [in the final race] and saw Ben do a huge nose dive, we bowed out to avoid them, which caused us to crash.
“It triggered our emergency stop systems, effectively shutting the boat down. While we restarted the systems, Tom [Slingsby, Australia SailGP Team] was already far down the line.”
Regardless, the team’s consistent result saw the Americans increase their point total in the overall league standings, further cementing their grip on the overall podium. Only the top three teams at the end of the season will have the chance to race for the Grand Final at the United States SailGP in San Francisco on March 26-27, 2022.
Despite the final race troubles, Spithill is pleased with the weekend and second-place overall finish. “It’s another great result. We are now just one point off the lead overall.”
During the post-race debrief, Spithill jokingly compared the American team to a bridesmaid, stating, “At the end of the day, no one will care who won the earlier regattas, so this is another great result. All we have to do is qualify for the final and then win in San Francisco.”
CJ Perez, the latest addition to the team at 18 years old and first female on board, was buzzing about today’s conditions. “It was absolutely unbelievable,” the Honolulu-native said. “Sailing these boats is a whole other level. It’s what sailing is about.
“Your heart rate is at its max, your adrenaline is pumping, you’re nervous and excited for each tack and jibe and it’s some of the best racing in the world in my opinion.”
The adrenaline rush continues as the team looks toward the Australia SailGP in Sydney on December 17-18, 2022.