The France SailGP Team has announced changes to their flight controller and coach, and added a fourth grinder to gain a performance edge as early as possible in the season.
The moves follow the appointment of the former team China boss Bruno Dubois as France Team Manager for the 2020 season.
Marie Riou departs from the team and is replaced in the key position of flight controller by multihull expert, François Morvan, who was back-up flight controller in 2019.
The departure of Riou follows the end of Billy Besson and Riou’s Olympic partnership in the Nacra 17, after failing to gain Tokyo 2020 selection. Besson continues as France SailGP helm.
Thierry Douillard is the new coach, replacing Franck Citeau and Stevie Morrison, who have both moved on to other activities.
Morrison apparently to join the SailGP TV commentating team alongside Saskia Clark and anchor Clare Balding (really)!
Douillard is a multiple winner of the Tour de Voile, an offshore racer, former coach of the Oman Sail team and weather router for Sodebo Sailing Team.
Finally, the team adds a fourth grinder, Jules Bidegaray, the winner of a competition launched in Marseille in the autumn, to recruit a young grinder.
Bidegaray will join the other powerhouses of the team – the very experienced Olivier Herledant, Devan Le Bihan and Timothé Lapauw.
Matthieu Vandame, one of the core members of the team, remains as wing trimmer and will have the challenge of handling and managing the settings of the new modular wing.
The new modular wing will be used from the second event of the season in San Francisco (2-3 May) allowing the foiling multihulls to compete in a wider range of conditions, reducing the risk of lost days for the tightly programmed events.
The modular wing can be adapted to a wider range of sailing conditions – it can decrease to 18m in height or expand to 24m tall depending on the wind strength – and in the reduced configuration it will allow the F50 to reach higher speeds.
Danish media is reporting that Copenhagen will host a SailGP event, which will be held off Oceankaj in Nordhavn, on the weekend of 11 and 12 September 2020.
France SailGP Team for 2020:
Billy Besson / Helmsman
François Morvan / Flight Controller
Matthieu Vandame / Wing Trimmer
Olivier Herledant / Grinder
Devan Le Bihan / Grinder
Timothé Lapauw / Grinder
Jules Bidegaray / Young Grinder