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The French Conquer Cadiz!

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  • The French Conquer Cadiz!


    France driver Quentin Delapierre has spoken about the unexpected challenge of swapping down to a four person crew configuration for the C?diz Final, after light winds and choppy conditions plagued the racecourse.

    A last-minute message from race management instructed teams to jettison two members of their crew ahead of the Final. Delapierre elected to keep wing trimmer Kevin Peponnet, grinder Matthieu Vandame and strategist Manon Audinet on board, with Audinet stepping into the second grinder position.
    This meant Delapierre was left to multitask driving, flight control and tactics alone.

    Speaking after securing his first ever event win, Delapierre revealed it was the first time he had sailed with just four crew on board.

    “It was pretty tough in the choppy conditions and managing the whole rig was very tricky,” he said. However, on hearing the instruction to cut down his crew he remained ‘focused on making a good start and trying to win the race.’
    Delapierre pointed to France’s Season 2 performance at the Spain Sail Grand Prix, which saw the team finish at the bottom of the fleet on his debut as driver.

    “I think the team has pushed really hard since the beginning of the season to keep the learning curve increasing so we are really happy,” he said.

    He complimented France strategist Manon Audinet’s ‘unbelievable’ performance throughout the event. The pair have previously sailed together in the Nacra 17 class, winning a World Cup in 2019.
    “She was calling the right shifts and pressure and it was easy for us because we have spent so much time on the Nacra together,” he said. He added that Audinet ‘pushed hard’ stepping into the grinder position for the Final.

    “She was full power with a lot of conviction,” he added, “it was an unbelievable role by Manon.”
    Speaking about the team’s result, Audinet added: “I’m just so happy I don’t know what to say. It’s just a crazy feeling to win this event.”

    Quentin Delapierre marked his first anniversary as France driver by winning his first ever SailGP event, with a narrow three second lead over the Americans on the Bay of C?diz.

    Neck and neck racing with Jimmy Spithill’s United States throughout culminated in a tense last-minute battle between the two crews, and France crossing the finish line with just three seconds to spare.
    Tom Slingsby’s Australia meanwhile came over the line in third after aggressive match racing tactics from the U.S. early on pushed the Aussies to the back of the pack.

    In one of the closest races in the history of SailGP, France converted a brilliant start under pressure into pole position at mark one.
    However, consistent boat speed and smooth manoeuvres from the U.S. saw Jimmy Spithill’s crew breathing down France’s neck throughout, leading to a brief overtake and the pair jostling for first place with just meters to the finish line.

    Light winds and choppy waters saw the three final teams slim down to a four-crew configuration ahead of the Final, with Slingsby, Spithill and Delapierre multitasking tactics, steering and flight control.
    Speaking from the water, Delapierre said ‘huge improvements’ in the team led to the event win.

    “Winning this sail grand prix on the four-crew configuration was a huge step for the team - there was tight battle with the Americans and it was a challenge to keep our strategy clean.”

    It followed a weekend of tense, tight-pack racing, with crews struggling to cope with a turbulent sea state and gusty conditions. However, France remained consistent throughout, picking up a 2-4-3-5-3 racing record and sweeping into the Final despite not winning a Fleet race.
    The refreshed Championship standings see Australia extend their lead to 50 points, New Zealand in second with 46 and France entering the top three teams with 41.

    Rough conditions on the first day of the Spain Sail Grand Prix presented by NEAR forced crews to choose between ‘speed and stability’, France driver Quentin Delapierre has said.

    Australia finished the day in pole position at the top of the leaderboard but is tied with France heading into the second day of racing, with both teams chalking up 24 points apiece. Great Britain meanwhile battled back from an uncharacteristic eighth place finish in the first race of the day to finish third overall with 22 points.
    Speaking after the race, Delapierre said the conditions, which caught out even the most experienced crews in the league, forced teams to choose between speed and stability.

    “You have to choose between riding height and stability, because if you crash it’s over,” Delapierre said, adding that it was ‘hard to find the balance’.
    Australia strategist Tash Bryant agreed, that ‘safety came first’ in today’s conditions which also highlighted the importance of clear communication on board.

    “With the chop, it was like being in a washing machine most of the time, so it was really important to make sure everyone knew what was going on.”

    Both Delapierre and Australia driver Tom Slingsby complimented the performances of their flight controllers Fran?ois Morvan and Jason Waterhouse, with Slingsby describing Waterhouse as the ‘MVP of the day’.
    Delapierre added: “It was a pretty challenging day for [Morvan] and he did so well helping us to stay at the front of the fleet."

    Speaking about Australia’s fragile position tied with France at the top of the podium, Slingsby admitted he was ‘not comfortable’ heading into the second day of racing. There are currently just five points separating Spain in sixth place and Australia and France in joint first.
    “The points are so tight so for sure we’re not comfortable,” he said, “we need at least two good races out of three tomorrow to cement us in the Final. If we only have one good race, it will be up in the air and probably unlikely so we’ve just got to have a good first race and go from there.”

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