Japan takes early lead at SailGP Sydney
Published on February 15th, 2019
Sydney, Australia (February 15, 2019) – In front of thousands of spectators on Sydney Harbor, the new sailing league SailGP got underway with widely anticipated favorite Japan SailGP Team leading the 6-team field to top the rank after day one.
The Japanese team, helmed by Nathan Outteridge, started strong with a bullet and followed that with two second-place finishes to support the contention that they were the team to beat.
However, Tom Slingsby’s Australian team wanted to give the home fans some optimism. After they stumbled in the first race, the locals rallied for two commanding comeback wins in races two and three to stand just one point off the lead.
“That was the first time we’ve ever done a race together as a group,” said Outteridge, a quote that goes for all the teams. “We made some errors but obviously we made less errors than everyone else. For the first day of SailGP and the first day for our team, I couldn’t ask for more.
The breeze arrived in time, but the tricky easterlies between 6 and 10 knots did no favors for teams with less time in the boats. As both Outteridge and Slingsby are the only helms with considerable America’s Cup hours, it proved to be a check they could cash.
Afterwards, the Aussie helms – both Olympic gold medalists – still had plenty of fight.
“It’s out of Nathan’s hands; if we perform we’ll beat him,” said Slingsby, to which Outteridge shot back with, “The Australians are easily beatable – they beat us today because we made mistakes.”
For the rest of the teams it will be about negating the experience of the leaders to fight for the remaining spot on the podium. While the France may be at the bottom of the rank, look for tomorrow to be moving day as their total points don’t reflect how they were third in the first race before inexplicably failing to finish. Get that score back and they’d be tied for third.
Day One Results
1. Japan, Nathan Outteridge, 1-2-2, 28
2. Australia, Tom Slingsby, 4-1-1, 27
3. Great Britain, Dylan Fletcher Scott, 3-4-4, 22
4. United States, Rome Kirby, 5-3-5, 20
5. China, Phil Robertson, 2-6-6, 19
6. France, Billy Besson, 6-5-3, 19
Racing continues with three final races on February 16 at 3-5pm local. This translates to very late hours in North American (and a day earlier) or very early hours in Europe. For time conversion in your area, click here.
Day One Races:
Established in 2018 and headquartered in London and San Francisco, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric, inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe and culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race. Rival national teams from Australia, China, France, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States battle it out in identical wing-powered, foiling F50 catamarans, engineered to exceed 50 knots.
Sydney, Australia (February 15-16)
San Francisco, USA (May 4-5)
New York, USA (June 21-22)
Cowes, UK (August 10-11)
Marseille, France (September 20-22)