Conditions on Sydney Harbour may not have been perfect during the first SailGP in Sydney last month, but it was a great showcase and even greater win from team Australia. In fact, we were impressed by the high speed of the boats in such light breeze!
Light winds always make racing tricky; in any class of boat. But with only 8 knots or so, we managed to get up on the foils and exceed speeds of 30 knots and put on a good show. In fact after watching some of the replays I’m sure this would be the most exciting sailing out there to watch in light breeze.
Sydney showed a lot of support and made a great atmosphere out on the water and we can’t wait to come back next summer
We also saw that if the manoeuvres were not timed properly, the boat would come off the foils and stop. How hard is it to move on the boat at 25 knots and find the right balance i.e not being too aggressive to prevent the boat from stopping foiling?
Moving around the boat doing 25 knots feels like walking down the hallway at home; it’s become second nature. But probably the best way to describe moving around on the boat when we get up to our top speeds would be to imagine standing on a top of a train carriage in the rain doing 100km an hour; the boat is moving around, its slippery and the apparent wind is fierce.
Once you are foiling the speed comes easy, it’s the transitions out of maneuvers where you trying to get onto the foils which can be a bit of an art in the light breeze and where there are many gains to be made out there. You can’t be too greedy and try to force the boat up too early before you’ve built boat speed. You need to be patient, build the speed and pick the right wind line and gust before going for it. If you get any of these wrong then you are likely to make a big loss on your competitors. This is something we got better at doing during the Sydney event.
From a sailor’s point of view, what are the main differences between those boats and the AC50’s? Are they actually easier to sail?
Basically they looked at the AC50’s with an open book and asked how could we make them faster and more reliable to sail.
There are lots of refinements that have been made (post AC35) that make achieving the 50kt speed barrier do-able. And we will now reach 50knts with 5 pob, whereas in AC35 we had 6 pob.
Up the front of the boat it’s become less physical in the lighter wind range which is great for me as a grinder however in the upper wind ranges it will be as physical as ever.
Given the logistics of sailing these boats, how are the teams training in between each event? Are we going to see Team Australia GP sailing on the harbour before the San Francisco event?
The training time on the actual boats is limited due to the boats tight shipping schedules and special licenses in host ports. Our boat has already left Sydney for San Francisco and we won’t get access to train in it until a week or two before the regatta that is the same for all teams. The SailGP event authority do everything possible to ensure everyone gets the same amount of time in the boats.
Unfortunately there’ll be no more sailing in Sydney until next summer when we hope SailGP will return.
In our time between regattas we train hard in the gym and do as much racing in other boats as we can to keep that competitive edge and have the occasional catch up to make sure we don’t forget everything we have learnt.
We also have access to an AC50 simulator designed and built by Artemis Technologies, which simulates sailing the boat in full scale; a pretty cool tool to have when you can’t always get out on the real thing.
As a top sailor, do you think it is compatible to do the full SailGP circuit as well as the America’s Cup? Could anyone manage doing both campaigns?
There are a few guys doing that this year, but I cannot see it being sustainable. The Americas Cup takes a lot of time and focus and SailGP wont be too different moving forward into the 2nd season.
What else is on the agenda for you in between each event?
Starting this weekend (2nd March) I’ll be competing in the 18ft Skiff JJ Giltinan Titles onboard ‘Winning Group’ with John Winning Jnr.
So that’s the focus for the next coming weeks…