China climbs at Marseille SailGP
Published on September 21st, 2019
Marseille, France (September 21, 2019) – Phil Robertson and the China SailGP Team triumphed with a first-ever race win on the penultimate day of the Marseille SailGP Season 1 Grand Final.
Meanwhile, the battle between Tom Slingsby’s Australian team and Nathan Outteridge’s Japan team continued to heat up in advance of tomorrow’s US$1 million match race finale, as the rivals traded victories in the other two races of the day.
China’s success locks the team in a tie with Dylan Fletcher’s Great Britain SailGP Team for third place, to be fought out on the final day of racing in Marseille.
The win is an impressive feat for the Chinese, who questioned whether they would be able to appear on the racecourse earlier in the morning. With grinder Liu ‘Black’ Xue out with a back injury and grinder Liu ‘Leo’ Ming suffering severe gastrointestinal issues, Robertson was left with no option but to retire from racing for the day as the team would not meet the nationality requirements to compete.
When Ming heard that his team would be unable to race in his absence, he decided to push through the discomfort. The decision ultimately put the China team back in the running for the podium after a difficult season.
“We did what we could to get out there. We persuaded everyone to get us racing and our guys said they would feel better if we started a race and put some gear on to tough it out,” said Robertson. “It feels fantastic. It’s great to get a win, it’s been a bit of a tough ride racing against top teams like Australia and Japan, but we got a win on the second to last day of the season – it’s a great reward.”
A race win, added to a third- and fourth-place results, catapulted Robertson up the leaderboard to tie with Great Britain, with two races remaining tomorrow.
“To be honest, we did think we would be contending the podium going into the final day of SailGP Season 1,” said Robertson. “We knew we were six points off third coming into this event. No one talked about us, gave us any respect, so a lot of the focus was to claw into these guys and be fighting for third place. It’s a great position to be in.”
Weather on the Rade Nord racecourse was lighter than forecast for the day, and the six national teams were challenged to search for what there was, with the randomness playing to the helmsmen with more tactical styles of racing.
Despite having secured their place in the Championship Final tomorrow, rivals Slingsby and Outteridge were still aggressive during today’s racing. Australia had the edge on the day, with one win and two second-place finishes compared to first-, second- and fourth-place finishes by Japan. The two teams will duel tomorrow, with a 10-minute race deciding the overall SailGP Champion and winner of $US1 million dollars.
“We keep getting told that Nathan is better than us in shifty winds, on tough racecourses, that he starts better than us, and his maneuvers are better than us. But we are ahead of him,” said Slingsby.
The Marseille SailGP Season 1 Grand Final continues tomorrow with two fleet races and the final match race, with Australia and Japan already having secured the top two overall positions. The first two fleet races will only feature the boats that have not qualified for the match racing final, ahead of the showdown between Slingsby and Outteridge.
Day Two Results:
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby, 2-1-2-1-2-2, 56
2. Japan, Nathan Outteridge, 1-4-1-2-3-1, 54
3. China, Phil Robertson, 5-3-5-3-1-4, 45
4. Great Britain, Dylan Fletcher, 3-2-3-6-4-6, 42
5. France, Billy Besson, 4-5-4-4-6-3, 40
6. United States, Rome Kirby, 6-6-6-5-5-5, 33
SailGP Season 1 Overall Leaderboard
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby, 225
2. Japan, Nathan Outteridge, 219
3. China, Phil Robertson, 162
4. Great Britain, Dylan Fletcher, 162
5. United States, Rome Kirby, 155
6. France, Billy Besson, 155
Note: Total points based on SailGP scoring.
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)
Source: SailGP, Scuttlebutt