Aussies juggle best at Denmark SailGP
Published on August 20th, 2021
Aarhus, Denmark (August 20, 2021) – The inaugural ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix was met with rolling clouds and shifting winds making the racecourse a ‘minefield’ for day one on Aarhus Bay. Additional drama came in the form of a capsize pre-start for Phil Robertson and the Spain SailGP Team which took them out of contention for the day.
Familiar with the venue, the Danish team kicked off its home event with a bang by taking an early lead in the first race of the day and fending off a late charge from the Aussies to take the win by a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, the success was short lived and the Danish found themselves further down the fleet in the next two races, dropping Nicolai Sehested’s team to fourth at the end of play.
“It was really nice to get that race win in front of our home crowd,” said Sehested. “It was a good day for us but unfortunately in the last race we damaged our rudder so that wasn’t a good result. But, we were sailing the boat well and we are off to a good start. Now it is about tomorrow and we need two good race results to get in that final race. It is a minefield out there so if you are not on your game, you go from first to last so we just need to make sure we are on our game tomorrow.”
Jimmy Spithill’s new U.S. crew lineup – following a last minute replacement for Paul Campbell-James after he broke his leg in training – took the second race win and, with Ben Ainslie back in the driving seat, the British team won Race 3.
Despite not winning a single race today, it was Tom Slingsby’s Australia who ended the opening day in pole position. With two second places and a fifth place finish, Australia is at the top of the leaderboard – ranking one point ahead of Ainslie’s British team, and two in front of Jimmy Spithill’s U.S. team in third.
“It was like snakes and ladders today,” said Slingsby. “We had some races where we were a long way back with some good comebacks and we’re really happy with just getting some good results. We didn’t think we’d end up on top of the leaderboard after today. The comebacks on that last lap helped us.
“It’s going to be really tough tomorrow in lighter winds. We need to do a bit of sailing with our three-up combination with Jason Waterhouse so we may need to head out early to do a little practice to figure out how we want to sail.”
With Peter Burling’s return – fresh from competing at the Olympic Games where he took silver with teammate Blair Tuke – New Zealand looked on form. Burling’s team initially ended the day in third place overall but, upon review of an incident with Billy Besson’s French team – in the final race of the day – the Kiwi’s were hit with two penalty points by the umpire, subsequently dropping the team down to fifth as it was felt they could have done more to avoid the collision.
France, as the boat in the wrong and causing the damage, was penalized four points, placing them seventh after day one.
Japan and France, sitting sixth and seventh respectively, head into day two with a lot of work to do if they are to qualify for the final three-boat race to decide the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix winner.
It was a disappointing day for Robertson’s Spanish team finishing with zero points owing to the pre-race capsize. The incident took place during the team’s warm up less than an hour before racing was due to commence.
“We were just warming up feeling pretty comfortable with the boat and did one of the more difficult maneuvers out there and probably overloaded the board in the moment, at the speed we were doing, and snapped the foil,” Robertson explained. “It did quite a bit of damage to the boat so it’s something that we’ve got to assess and hopefully fix tonight and be back tomorrow.
“To be honest it was a bit of a lame capsize. The board breaking and the major damage is what we’re most concerned about. It’s a tough one, we’re a really young team. Most of these teams have sailed for many, many years in the America’s Cup. We’ve got no experience, we’re trying to learn as we go. We get two days of training and probably a few little instances like that where maybe the guys with experience wouldn’t have done a maneuver like that, but we’re trying to catch up to them.
“It’s a shame it happened on a race day. We’re going over the boat with a fine tooth comb and if it’s repairable then it’ll get repaired, if it’s not then we’ll be working all night and tomorrow to get it ready for the next event.
Day One Results
1. Australia, 18 pts
2. Great Britain, 17 pts
3. United States, 16 pts
4. Denmark, 15 pts
5. New Zealand, 14 pts (2 point penalty for contact with FRA)
6. Japan, 13 pts
7. France, 6 pts (4 point penalty for contact with NZL)
8. Spain, 0 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 (CANCELLED)
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.