This weekend San Francisco is the place to be not only to wear a flower in your hair, but to watch some extraordinary yacht racing. SailGP, the global series funded by Larry Ellison will duke out the second of their five location series in the blustery waters of San Francisco bay and it’s sure to provide some spectacular racing.
If the past week is anything to go on there could be some serious crashing and burning as the teams have found the windy conditions to be challenging. There have been a number of spectacular wipeouts with the boats coming down off their foils and going from forty knots to zero in a couple of seconds. It’s no wonder the crew wear crash helmets and special gear to be able to deal with any sudden wipeout.
There are six teams competing. The United States, Australia, Japan, Great Britain, France and China and among the skippers there are four olympic champions and seven America’s Cup winners. Skippers are Dylan Fletcher (UK), Rome Kirby (USA), Billy Besson (France), Phil Robertson (China), Tom Slingsby (Australia) and Nathan Outteridge (Japan). These are some of the best sailors in the world and I am sure all of them will be gunning for first place with Tom Slingsby ready to defend his dominance in Sydney back in February. Slingsby and his Australian team won five out of the six races.
The race course will be right off the city waterfront in full view of spectators on land as well as out on the water. The racing will be between Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate bridge. If you are a member of the St Francis yacht club you will have a VIP view of all the action as the boats will be sailing literally a stone’s throw away from the club.
In addition to the racing the teams have an eye on becoming the first boat to cross the 50 knots speed barrier and claim the official F50 speed record. Slingsby and his crew claim to have already gone faster than 50 knots in practice this week. In one big gust they bore away and the boat took off faster than they had ever sailed before but their onboard gyroscope only recorded a speed of 48.13 knots even though their handheld Velocitek GPS recorded 52.2 knots.
The SailGP Technical Team state that the speed has to be recorded on the gyroscope so for now that elusive number that will come with a lot of bragging rights is still up for grabs. Let’s just think about that for a second; we are talking about 50-foot sailboats going at speeds approaching and possibly exceeding 50 knots. Quite extraordinary. Racing starts at 12:30 Pacific time on Saturday and Sunday and can be watched in a number of ways including their social media outlets. For a full look at how to watch the racing go here – https://sailgp.com/watch/