Australia claims SailGP lead
Published on July 18th, 2021
Plymouth, UK (July 18, 2021) – The Australia SailGP Team celebrated its first event win of SailGP Season 2, being crowned champion of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix on Plymouth Sound. The Aussies, skippered by Tom Slingsby, beat France and the United States in the three-team winner-takes-all Final to move up to first in the Season Championship.
The Season 1 champion was defeated by Great Britain in the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix Final earlier this season, but got its revenge on British waters after winning two fleet races on Day 1 – culminating in a fine performance in today’s Final on Plymouth Sound.
“I think, being candid with ourselves, it is easy to say we had a bad event in Italy,” said Slingsby. “But for this event we decided we do need to look at ourselves, and we are weaker in lighter air. We needed to work on that issue, so we did that – and we came back strong.”
While the USA won the qualifying stage, and took the lead in the Final after Australia faltered on their first gybe, the stabilization provided by the team’s replacement F50 rudder which was being used following the team’s collision with an underwater object in Italy, and which had been problematic earlier in the day, deteriorated throughout the race, creating problems with control of the platform.
The rudder issue combined with near flawless performances by both the French and Australian teams allowed both teams to overtake the Americans, who were unable to defend, with the Australians ultimately claiming victory.
“Any time you get to race in the podium race it’s a great position to be in but, unfortunately for us, we had a bit of a technical issue with our starboard rudder that deteriorated throughout the day,” said US SailGP Team Driver Jimmy Spithill.
After three races yesterday, the opening race of the day, race 4, saw the comeback of Japan following a disappointing opening day in Plymouth. Despite a fine start by New Zealand, Nathan Outteridge’s team took the lead just before the halfway point and stayed there until crossing the finish line.
The home crowd on Plymouth Hoe also had something to celebrate, as the British team secured a podium finish to open the day – before doing even better in race 4 to claim victory on its home waters. However, this win, finishing ahead of France and the United States, was not enough to earn Interim Driver Goodison’s team a place in the winner-takes-all Final.
Japan, winners of race 4, only managed to finish sixth in the overall rankings, scoring two points fewer than the Denmark SailGP Team presented by Rockwool – who enjoyed its best event so far with two podium finishes in the fleet racing.
New Zealand and Spain propped up the rest of the leaderboard, with the Spanish ending the weekend in last place – largely due to its Black Flag on Race Day 1 which resulted in an instant disqualification from race 3.
For the USA team, their third place finish dramatically improved its position in the overall standings, moving up three positions into fourth-place overall, with only three points now separating the top four teams.
“In terms of the points spread, anyone can still take the season. That’s exciting for everyone involved,” continued Spithill. “The team is incredibly positive, we’re still learning all the time, and at the end of the day you want to set yourself up to win the last event in San Francisco – that’s the one that’s going to count.”
3. United States
4. Great Britain
7. New Zealand
1. United States, 27 pts
2. France, 26 pts
3. Australia, 25 pts
4. Great Britain, 22 pts
5. Denmark, 21 pts
6. Japan, 19 pts
7. New Zealand, 19 pts
8. Spain, 18 pts
SailGP Season Championship (after 3 events)
1. Australia, 22 pts
2. Great Britain, 22 pts
3. France, 21 pts
4. United States, 19 pts
5. Japan, 19 pts
6. Spain, 19 pts
7. Denmark, 17 pts
8. New Zealand, 17 pts
Format for SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three races on each day, totaling six races at each event.
• The opening five fleet races involve every team.
• The final match race pits the three highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.
SailGP Season 2 Schedule*
April 24-25, 2021 – Bermuda Grand Prix
June 5-6, 2021 – Italy Grand Prix – Taranto
July 17-18, 2021 – Great Britain Grand Prix – Plymouth
August 20-21, 2021 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Grand Prix – Aarhus
September 11-12, 2021 – France Grand Prix – Saint-Tropez
October 9-10, 2021 – Spain Grand Prix – Andalusia
December 17-18, 2021 – Australia Grand Prix – Sydney
January 29-30, 2022 – New Zealand Grand Prix – Christchurch
March 26-27, 2022 – United States Grand Prix – San Francisco (Season 2 Grand Final)
*Subject to change
2021-22 Teams, Helm
Australia, Tom Slingsby
Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
France, Billy Besson
Great Britain, Ben Ainslie (alternate – Paul Goodison)
Japan, Nathan Outteridge
New Zealand, Peter Burling (alternate – Arnaud Psarofaghis)
Spain, Jordi Xammar (alternate – Phil Robertson)
United States, Jimmy Spithill
Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe. Rival national teams compete in identical F50 catamarans with the season culminating with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.