Please select your home edition
Edition
Ancasta Botin Fast40

High drama ahead of San Francisco SailGP

by SailGP Media 30 Apr 20:24 PDT 1 May 2019
Australia SAILGP Team skippered by Tom Slingsby passes the Golden Gate Bridge during a race practice. Event 2 Season 1 SailGP event in San Francisco © Lloyd Images

For the first time on San Francisco Bay, the six SailGP teams – representing the home team from the United States and rival teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain and Japan – hit the racecourse together today, during official practice racing held in anticipation of the May 4-5 grand prix.

San Francisco turned it on for the first day of practice racing at the U.S debut of SailGP, challenging the six teams to their limits. With the Golden Gate Bridge standing proudly over the racecourse, San Francisco Bay lived up to its reputation as one of the most difficult sailing venues in the world with strong sea breezes, ripping tides and choppy waters. Winds kicked up into the afternoon, heightening the intensity and pushing the world’s best sailors to the limits.

“It was full on racing today, and the bay lived up to its iconic reputation,” said United States SailGP Team helm Rome Kirby. “I think you got a preview today of pretty exciting, thrilling racing. It’s huge to be the home team. It’s exciting to be representing your country and I’m excited to get going.”

The day featured two fleet races, punctuated by both the Chinese and Australian teams nearly capsizing in the strong conditions. After taking a massive nose dive, the 24-meter/78-foot wing buckled, causing the team to retire from racing and putting the team’s participation in weekend racing in question.

The official practice day kicks off on Friday, May 3. Formal racing will occur from 12:30-2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The race will conclude on Sunday afternoon with the top two teams going head to head in a match race finale.

The San Francisco SailGP Race Village, located on the Marina Yacht Club Peninsula, will serve as the center of the festivities, an ideal place to take in the race action and cheer on the national teams. Limited tickets are available at SailGP.com/SanFrancisco.

Practice Racing

After getting close in training, the magic 50 knot (60 mph) number remained elusive, and it was more a case of bringing the crews and boats home safely at the end of the day.

The Australia SailGP Team was the fastest boat on the racecourse, reaching a top speed of 47 knots.

“I never really cared too much about being the first team to hit 50 knots,” said Australia SailGP Team helm Tom Slingsby. “But now it’s a pretty frustrating being so close and not having done it yet. We definitely want to be the first team to do this.”

If the race preview today is any indication toward this weekend’s showdown, fans are in for some of the most thrilling racing the Bay has ever seen.

For one team there was a heart stopping moment that nearly ended their championship chances, when the red hulls of the China team came crashing down from the foils, in what helm Phil Robertson called, “the scariest moment I have ever had on a yacht.”

Robertson continued, “We went into a bear away, the conditions were fairly fresh, the boat speed built, and I just didn’t get enough rake off in the moment. The boat literally leapt out of the water, nose-dived and we destroyed most of the wing.”

During the practice racing, the Japan and Great Britain SailGP teams squared off, showing impressive boat-handling and finesse on the water, ultimately dominating on the course.

“Fans are going to see some thrills and spills for sure, if today is anything to go by,” said Japan SailGP Team helm Nathan Outteridge. “Teams are trying new things, there’s high action, and the racecourse is super close to the shore. You can almost hear the people onshore when you are sailing around. I think if anyone is in San Francisco this weekend, they’ve got to come and check it out.”

“It was fantastic to have all six boats out there today,” said Great Britain SailGP helm Dylan Fletcher. “The weather was at the top end, and we were all a little bit scared at the time, but it was brilliant racing. I hope that it was good for everyone out there to watch because it was super exciting in the boat, hair raising.”

Media was invited to witness the practice racing from onboard the Red and White Fleet’s Enhydra, the first aluminum hulled, lithium-Ion battery plug-in hybrid vessel built from the keel up under U.S. Coast Guard regulations, and the largest of its kind. During the race weekend, SailGP and the Enhydra will provide two on-water experiences – SailGP Cruise Select and SailGP Cruise Premier. Tickets are still available at SailGP.com/SanFrancisco.

Related Articles

Global audience of 1.8 billion in SailGP Season 1
More than 133,000 spectators witnessed the world's fastest sail racing As SailGP celebrates its first anniversary, the overall impact of the new global championship has been revealed, highlighted by a total global event audience of 1.8 billion across broadcast, social, press and in-venue audiences. Posted on 10 Oct
U.S. SailGP Team at Marseille SailGP overall
Kirby vows comeback after the team's rollercoaster season In a season of highs and lows, the United States SailGP Team, the youngest team in the SailGP Championship, finished the inaugural season today at Marseille SailGP and is now focused on taking this year's learnings into 2020. Posted on 22 Sep
Marseille SailGP overall
Tom Slingsby wins historic first SailGP Championship for Australia Tom Slingsby today made history, helming the Australia SailGP Team to victory over Nathan Outteridge's Japan SailGP Team in the SailGP Season 1 Championship Final Race. Posted on 22 Sep
U.S. SailGP Team at Marseille SailGP day 2
Weather system serves up unpredictable conditions On a day that saw three different teams score wins in three races, the United States SailGP Team was left wanting as a weather system on Marseille's Race Nord race course served up unpredictable conditions on the penultimate day of the SailGP Season One Posted on 21 Sep
Marseille SailGP day 2
China's first race win of SailGP Season 1 Phil Robertson and the China SailGP Team triumphed with a first-ever race win on the penultimate day of the Marseille SailGP Season 1 Grand Final. Posted on 21 Sep
Marseille SailGP day 1
Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby one step closer Tensions heightened in front of the fan-lined Seawall as Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge went head to head on the Rade Nord racecourse at the Marseille SailGP Season 1 Grand Final. Posted on 20 Sep
U.S. SailGP Team at Marseille SailGP day 1
Board damage frustrates U.S. team's quest for podium The first day of Marseille SailGP brought huge frustrations for U.S. SailGP Team when early in Race One the board-down line, a critical system on the foil that controls its downward movement, failed and forced American team to retire from first two races. Posted on 20 Sep
Meeting of the Minds in Marseille
French sailing heroes team up for practice racing Thursday's SailGP practice racing brought a little extra excitement when the world's fastest solo circumnavigator joined France SailGP helmsman Billy Besson and his team onboard the most technologically advanced boat on the planet, the F50 catamaran. Posted on 20 Sep
Marseille set for spectacular showdown
Less than 24 hours until battle commences for SailGP trophy and US$1 million The city of Marseille got a glimpse of the world's fastest sail racing boats today when the six high performance F50s took to the racecourse for the first time in practice. Posted on 19 Sep
Bronze in sight for U.S. Team at Marseille SailGP
A battle with the British can secure a podium spot Throughout a dramatic first SailGP season, the resilient United States SailGP Team has climbed the overall standings and is now in a battle with the British (only three points separate the two) for owning a podium spot after the SailGP Grand Final. Posted on 19 Sep
Naiad 660x82px_RescueSOUTHERN-SPARS-AGLAIA-SPARS_728X90 BottomFestival of Sails 2020 - FOOTER