The United States SailGP Team posted the fastest speed of the day of Sydney SailGP as Rome Kirby’s all-American team placed themselves in the hunt for the podium, currently sitting in fourth place overall.
Starting strategy has been a key focus for the team during the off-season, and today that preparation paid off as the U.S. SailGP Team consistently hit the start line at maximum speed and in a controlling position heading toward the first reach mark.
“We are getting off the line well, and the work Taylor (Canfield), Riley (Gibbs) and I have been doing with our coach Joe (Glanfield) is paying off,” said Kirby. “Overall, I’m really pleased with the day. We left a few key points on the board that we’d like back, but we are definitely pushing hard, and it shows.”
In fact, the American squad achieved the fastest speed on the course today, clocking in at a blistering 47.9 knots, an advantage that Kirby aims to use to tomorrow.
“The boat felt great today,” said Kirby. “Credit goes to our shore team for working overtime this week making sure we had that extra gear when we needed it.”
Numerous times during the three-race day, the team was within striking distance of current event leader Sir Ben Ainslie and the Great Britain SailGP Team presented by INEOS. “Having Ben out there on the racecourse is awesome,” said Kirby, “but he’s also another boat we want to beat.”
Sydney Harbour delivered its trademark puffy and shifty wind conditions, which resulted in multiple lead changes as the teams navigated around Shark Island in the middle of the racecourse.
“There were a lot of ups and downs out there,” Kirby said. “It’s a balancing act. You have to keep the throttle down, but also recognize when to pull it back slightly. I think overall we managed it pretty well.”
Kirby said the time the team spent together in the off-season is already paying dividends. “I definitely notice the benefits of spending more time together,” Kirby said. “In heated situations we are able to refocus and reset much quicker. Everyone is gelling well on the boat and working well together. “
When the Americans return to action tomorrow, Kirby says they plan once again to execute their starting strategy and clean up a few boat handling errors, which will get them “right back in it.”