Two weeks after victory in Saint-Tropez, the Emirates GBR SailGP Team has arrived in Taranto ahead of the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix. The British team sees the quick turnaround between the two events as a positive as they aim to keep the momentum going after their win at the France Sail Grand Prix.
The French victory was secured in spectacular fashion with Ben Ainslie and crew overtaking Tom Slingsby’s Australia Team on the penultimate leg of the Final Race on the Côte d’Azur. It was a nail-biting end to what had been a dramatic event, with New Zealand’s F50 wing collapsing after the third race on Saturday. The damage sustained meant Peter Burling’s crew was unable to race on the Sunday, and it has also rendered them out of action for Taranto.
The last time SailGP visited the coastal city in Apulia, Southern Italy, was back in 2021, with the British team finishing in a disappointing sixth place. It was lighter conditions in Taranto two years ago, but it didn’t hinder the action, with commentator David ‘Freddie’ Carr calling it the best light wind racing he had ever seen. All teams will be hoping for better conditions this weekend, with practice racing taking place on Friday, ahead of three fleet races on Saturday and a further two on Sunday before the final.
The Emirates GBR crew remains unchanged with Ben Ainslie on the wheel, Hannah Mills in the strategist role, Iain Jenson on Wing Trim, Luke Parkinson controlling the flight, veteran Nick Hutton as grinder trim and the bulky grinding duo of Neil Hunter & Matt Gotrel on the handles.
As always in SailGP, it’s about purpose as well as performance and this will be the fourth event Emirates GBR Team will be using its renewable energy installation to take its operations off-grid but this time with two wind turbines added. The system was created in partnership with Low Carbon and consists of 38 solar panels, as well as powering the team base, the system has also managed to power two other teams at previous events. In Saint-Tropez for the France Sail Grand Prix, the base consumed 171kwh of energy, but the solar system created 389kwh of energy. The energy created equates to powering 422 fridge freezers for a day, or making 10,386 cup of tea.
Emirates GBR Driver and CEO Sir Ben Ainslie wants to bring winning momentum to Taranto, commenting; “We knew we had a really good team we just were missing that event victory. It’s now all about continuing that form in Taranto and beyond people talk about momentum being a big deal in sport, and I that’s the case with us now.
“It’s about taking some of the gains from Saint-Tropez, keeping that positivity going, the good vibes, good communication and good boat handling. If we tick all those boxes we will be in contention”
The Italian event is the second of three European events this Season with Cadiz the last in two weeks’ time. UK viewers can watch the racing at the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix on Saturday and Sunday live on ITVX.