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U.S. SailGP Team prepares for first windy race weekend in Sydney

by Laura Muma 23 Feb 12:23 PST February 24-25, 2024
The USA SailGP Team F50 catamaran is towed past Sydney Opera House during a practice session ahead of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney, Australia © Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

Eight events into the 13-event season, the United States SailGP Team is in third place on the overall leaderboard, bolstered by its third-place finish in last month's Abu Dhabi event. Next up: The KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney, February 24 - 25.

Sydney is the third event for the recently acquired U.S. SailGP Team, and is shaping up to be a much different affair than the previous two Middle Eastern light-air events. "This weekend's racing is going to be a great test for our new team," said Mike Buckley, U.S. SailGP Team CEO and strategist. "The conditions look to be quite extreme, which will be very challenging for everyone. It's setting up to be a heck of a show for the fans here in Sydney."

SailGP canceled Friday's official practice racing for the 10-boat fleet due to afternoon thunderstorms, but allowed the American and German teams - the two newest crews in the league - a morning training session to familiarize themselves with Sydney Harbor and gain valuable time on the highly technical F50.

Head Coach Mark Ivey represented the team at the morning press conference while the team prepared for its training session. "Any additional time we get as a new team and a new squad is absolute gold for us."

The team made the most of its two-hour training session despite the lack of wind. The team's support boat towed the F50 in order to simulate the upcoming conditions, allowing it to foil and practice maneuvers at the higher speeds that are forecasted for the weekend.

Driver Taylor Canfield said they focused on communication during maneuvers and refamiliarizing themselves with the F50 and their new positions, in particular Mac Agnese who is making the transition from grinder to flight controller. "The F50 is a lot to handle at high speeds, but we have the talent and potential to quickly adapt," Canfield said.

Olympian Anna Weis has rejoined the team after taking time away to focus on her Paris Olympic aspirations. "I had a blast being back on board the F50," said Weiss. "Being with the new team is great and I'm excited to see how my Olympic training and experience has prepared me for this opportunity."

"Our entire team is full of hunger," Ivey said. "They are passionate, and you can overcome a lot of things when you believe. That's what I'm trying to do as a coach is instill that belief and confidence that we can play out here against all these teams. The fact we had two hours today puts us two hours further ahead in training."

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