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Leaderboard FD July August September 2023

SailGP news, Golden Globe Race 2022, Tasar Worlds 2022

by David Schmidt 13 Sep 2022 08:00 PDT September 13, 2022
Jimmy Spithill, CEO & driver of USA SailGP Team, and his crew celebrate onboard their F50 catamaran after winning the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez, France © Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

If you follow SailGP, you're aware that it's been a tough run for the American-flagged team during the first half of the Grand Prix sailing league's third season. Sure, many of the sailors on the team are household names, especially their CEO and driver, Jimmy Spithill, but the squad has struggled to click. That is, of course, until this past weekend's France SailGP, which was held on the waters off of Saint Tropez, and which saw Spithill and company finish all four fleet races in the top three and claim a win in Race 4. More importantly for American interests, the United States SailGP Team foiled off with the lone bullet in the event's three-boat Final, beating the New Zealand SailGP Team and the Great Britain SailGP Team.

While Spithill famously won the 34th America's Cup in a wild, juggernaut come-from-behind win that upset Emirates Team New Zealand's seemingly unsurmountable 8-1 lead, and which kept the Auld Mug in American hands (in Bermuda) for another Cup cycle, the 43-year-old Spithill had yet to win a SailGP event.

"This is a long time coming and it feels fantastic," said Spithill in an official team communication. "It's a sign of strength for the team to get out there yesterday and then again today in completely different conditions. It's been an all-around team effort: from the shore team, our coach Philippe Presti, and of course the athletes. Everyone did an incredible job."

Impressively, the American-flagged team managed to still earn their way into the event's Finals, despite a collision with the France SailGP Team in the second race that cost Spithill and company valuable points. (N.B. SailGP has taken steps this season to stiffen penalties for collisions in an effort to bolster crew safety and to help keep the boats sailing.)

"My mistake, we clipped the back of the French boat," explained Spithill. "We got stuck at the bottom gate and didn't have much steerage. It wasn't on purpose, or dangerous. Look, if boats touch, someone is going to lose some points, and yeah, we were in the wrong."

Rubbing, after all, is racing, mate.

The Americans might have lost some points in their tangle with the French, but this didn't alter their focus or concentration: the team still managed to finish the race in second place, followed by a third in race three, a win in race four, and the bullet in the Final.

While the Americans enjoyed a fine showing, the same cannot be said of the Canada SailGP Team, which finished in last place, despite showing great pace earlier in the season. (N.B. the Canadian-flagged team finished third in Bermuda and second in Chicago, which were Season 3's first and second events.)

Sail-World tips our hats to the American efforts in Saint Tropez, and we hope that the Canada SailGP Team will rediscover the speed and smarts that they displayed earlier in the season.

Jumping from the fastest sailboat race afloat to one of the slowest, the Golden Globe Race 2022 began on September 4, on the waters off of Les Sables-d'Olonne, France, and saw 32 skippers cross the starting line in boats that seek to recreate the challenges experienced by the skippers of the Golden Globe Race of 1968-1969 (read: high adventure using old boats and old technology, including sextants.)

To date, the fleet has experienced a slow start and some lumpy weather. As of this writing, Simon Curwen (GBR) was leading the hunt, followed by Tapio Lehtinen (FIN), and Pat Lawless (IRL), and 17 out of the original fleet of 32 starting skippers have retired racing. The retiree list includes Doug Dean (USA) and Edward Walentynowicz (CAN), however North American interests are still being represented by Guy de Boer (USA) and Elliott Smith (USA).

Finally, much closer to home, this week marks the start of the Tasar World Championship 2022 (September 17-25), which is unfurling on the waters of Puget Sound, and which is being hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club.

This is the first time that a world championship regatta will be decided on the waters off of Seattle in over 40 years, and a glance at the registration list reveals some serious talent, including (but certainly not limited to) Anthony and Haley Boscolo, Dalton and Lindsay Bergan, Carl and Carol Buchan, Chris Dance and Peter Hacket, Jonathan McKee and Libby Johnson McKee, and Jay and Lisa Renehan.

Sail-World wishes all entrants in the Tasar Worlds great luck, and, selfishly, we also hope to see another world championship regatta take place on Puget Sound, sans the 40-year interlude.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt North American Editor

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