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SailJuice Podcast: 50 knots of thrills n spills at Cowes SailGP

by Andy Rice 15 Aug 2019 01:41 PDT 11 August 2019
Strong winds for the Cowes SailGP on Sunday © Mark Jardine

Since its glitzy launch last autumn next to London's Tower Bridge, SailGP has burst on to the scene at an adrenalin-rushing pace.

Even for us lifelong sailors gazing slack-jawed at the action from the Cowes shore, the sight of Tom Slingsby steering Team Australia across the finish line at just over 50 knots was breathtaking. Andy Rice interviewed a number of the key players after a big day out on the Solent for the foiling F50 catamarans...

Here's the running order of the podcast...

Dylan Fletcher

"Dark." That's how Dylan Fletcher described his mood soon after coming ashore from a deeply disappointing day on the water at SailGP. Andy Rice of SailJuice.com was there to report on the action.

Now Dylan has never been one to hide his feelings. His mood is generally written across his face, as it was at the end of a stormy and - for him - a deeply unsatisfactory day in Cowes. He told me in the media centre afterwards: "I think the only day that comes close to this is when we capsized in the Rio Medal Race."

Fletcher and Team Great Britain had high hopes for a strong performance in front of a massive home crowd lining the Cowes seafront. They had won both practice races and they were the first to earn the bragging rights of breaking the 50 knot barrier a few days earlier on the Solent, even if Australia and Japan were able to match that feat a day just a day later.

Rome Kirby

Little more than 30 seconds into the first race and already the crowds were witnessing six foiling catamarans come hurtling around mark one and stuffing the bows in. Team USA capsized but survived to compete in the next two races. I spoke to Rome Kirby afterwards about his big day out and the lessons learned...

Leo Takahashi

Despite Rome's optimism, Team USA's chances of making that $1m final in Marseille look distant, but you never know, not in this game! A more likely contender for the two-boat showdown in Marseille is Team Japan, despite a really difficult outing in Cowes, as grinder Leo Takahashi explained afterwards.

Nathan Outteridge

Steering the Japanese boat was the ever calm and collected Australian, Nathan Outteridge. This year he became a dad, and he was holding the baby while taking media interviews, and was going off to change young Jack's nappy soon afterwards. Perhaps Nathan's nappy needed changing after such a scary outing on the water, but if it did, he wasn't letting on...

Tom Slingsby

Now, the standout performers in Cowes were of course Team Australia, who won all three races to dominate the day. Remember, there was no sailing on the Friday or the Saturday because of the storm force winds sweeping across the UK, which was a great shame for the event. But someone who was grateful for the unavoidable delay in proceedings was Tom Slingsby who, having steered Team Australia to a new record speed of 51.24 knots during practice, then managed to bust the wing on the way back to the technical area in Southampton. The wing crossed the boat with too much twist during a low-speed gybe, ripping off the flaps and breaking several control arms.

So Tom was fortunate that racing wouldn't take place until Sunday afternoon, when three back-to-back fleet races were scheduled. In the end it worked out pretty well for Tom and the Aussie team...

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