From Land to sea, a different kind of racing. Recently, Two Formula 1 drivers got a firsthand experience of a SailGP boat.

On a recent sunny September day in Saint-Tropez, where the French SailGP race was taking place, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez climbed about a speedy high-tech $4 million sailboat.

The drivers for the Red Bull Formula 1 team had little idea what to expect when they took turns settling into the cockpit of the United States SailGP F50 foiling catamaran, one of the nine team boats that race in the global sailing series, now in its third year. Neither man had ever sailed.

With the veteran Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill guiding them, the drivers took turn on the American boat for three exhibition races as they squared off against the Australian boat led by Tom Slingsby.

Verstappen, the reigning Formula 1 champion who is on the brink of winning the title again, took the wheel on his turn, while Perez declined, not feeling comfortable enough at the helm, Laura Muma, a spokeswoman, said.

Verstappen, in a video, appeared uneasy at first as he clutched the sides of the cockpit when foiling and made clumsy, toddler like steps across the netting span between the two hulls as the boat turned.

The adjustment to racing on the water and specifically foiling, when the boat lifts out of water and rides on its hydrofoils, is understandable, Spithill said. 

'' We've had all sorts of athletes on the boat,'' he said. ''They are all shocked by how weird of a sensation it is when they swap sides when you're sailing, especially when you are foiling.  Until you get on the water and experience it, there's nothing you can say to them. But he [Verstappen] did well.''

Verstappen said he most enjoyed the balletic manner of the crew.

'' It's very different,'' Verstappen said. '' You can't compare the speed. But when you reach the speeds on the water it feels really impressive. I like to see the guys working together to go as fast possible and tuning it to perfection.''

Hitting high speeds on the water, where these boats can reach 55 knots, about 65 miles per hour, feels different than doing the same thing on the track, Perez said, on which the racecars go more than 200 m.p.h.

''I never imagined it was this challenging,'' Perez said. '' Watching them on TV, it doesn't look like it's such an extreme sport. It was something unique. We are doing some racing, but not on the track - on the water."

Like every sport, when you see it from outside, it is so different than when you actually jump into it. It is so impressive. I have a lot of admiration for what these guys do.''

The World Students Society thanks author John Clarke.


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