Locals pop corks at Australia SailGP

Published on December 18th, 2021

Sydney, Australia (December 18, 2021) – Tom Slingbsy delivered when it mattered for his Australia SailGP Team. Dominating the final race after an inconsistent series, the home team claimed victory in the Australia Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG to secure its place in the Season 2 Grand Final in San Francisco, March 26-27.

Slingbsy finished ahead of a dogged performance from the man they call ‘The Pitbull’, two-time America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill, who led his United States team to second place and was left still searching for his first event win in SailGP.

However, Spithill’s U.S. team also officially secured its place in the Grand Final as a result of its performance in Australia.

Phil Robertson’s Spanish team were unable to recapture the magic of its day one performance, posting two sixth place finishes in the qualifying races today, and while it was enough to make the three-boat final, they finished a distant third to all but end its chances of a Grand Final appearance in San Francisco.

Only the top three teams in the season ranking after the United States Sail Grand Prix on March 26-27 advance to the Championship Final Race on March 27 for a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.

The heartbreaking story of the day was Japan driver Nathan Outteridge’s heroic effort to win both fleet races today, recovering spectacularly from the drama yesterday that saw the front of the Japan boat sliced clean off after a crash with Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain team.

Having caused the incident, Ainslie gave up his own boat to ensure Japan could compete and the team hit Sydney Harbour with a hybrid boat that comprised the Great Britain hull and the Japan team’s 24 metre wingsail and hydrofoils.

But, the two race victories weren’t enough for Japan to make the final, and they missed out by a solitary point.

Great Britain’s withdrawal from the second day of racing meant the fleet was reduced to seven teams for the final day, but the top step on the podium once again belonged to Slingsby and his Australia team, as they claimed a fourth grand prix win out of the last five held.

“I’m so proud of the people we have,” noted Slingsby. “From the shore team to the management, I’m a proud skipper and CEO. We didn’t make it easy for ourselves but the way we bounced back, what we did today, was unbelievable.”

Australia has now opened up a two point championship lead over the United States, with Japan four points adrift of top spot in third. Slingsby was thrilled to have booked his team’s place in the Grand Final in San Francisco.

“We have absolutely got a target on our back now for sure,” noted Slingsby. “We have won four out of the last five races and we have a lot of confidence, we are only improving and for me it’s just particularly special to have secured this win at home in Australia.”

Making critical, tactical calls on board the Aussie boat was Olympian Nina Curtis who, as part of the Women’s Pathway Program (WPP), was racing onboard for just the second time.

“This has been one of the best days of my life,” said Curtis. “To be part of this in Sydney is amazing. The harbour was buzzing, there’s people on every foreshore, on anything that floats, all out there watching and I’ve never seen anything like this in sailing before and I think the whole city really put it on this weekend.”

Spithill was left still searching for his first SailGP event win, but can fully turn his attention to San Francisco now having secured his place in the Grand Final.

“It’s great, I mean for Tom, it’s his to lose now,” observed Spithill. “It’s great to be the underdog going into San Francisco, trust me, that’s the great thing about sport, the favorites don’t always win. The Aussies are still the benchmark team, they just push harder, we still have work to do, we have bridged that gap to them a little bit but we need more.”

Outteridge was left rueing yesterday’s dramatic collision with the Great Britain boat that ultimately scuppered his chances of making the final race in Australia.

“It feels like such a missed opportunity,” admitted Outteridge. “I would have loved to have been in that final with Jimmy and Tom and see how we could have stacked up against each other in a three boat race. I guess we will all have to keep waiting for that. It says a lot about Australian sailors that the top three championship teams are driven by Australians, we are dominating SailGP at the moment.”

Outteridge’s Japan boat won the first race of day two in dramatic circumstances as a flying start by Peter Burling’s New Zealand boat saw them lead from start to finish. But a penalty on the line for Burling meant Japan was handed the win.

Japan streaked away in the second race to ensure they had done all they could to make the final, but it wasn’t to be and their first place ahead of Australia and New Zealand was in vain.

It was a disappointing event for the French team, who never finished higher than fifth across the five races in which they featured, and they remain in last place in the championship standings. It was also an event to forget for Nicolai Sehested and the Denmark SailGP Team as they failed to register a top three finish across the two days.

SailGP Season 2 will conclude with the United States Sail Grand Prix, including the championship-deciding Grand Final, on March 26-27, 2022

Final Results
1. Australia, 3-7-1-4-2-(1); 28
2. USA, 6-3-2-3-4-(2); 27
3. Spain, 1-2-3-6-6-(3); 27
4. Japan, 7-1-7-1-1; 26
5. New Zealand, 5-8-5-2-3; 22
6. Denmark, 4-5-4-7-5; 20
7. France,8-6-6-5-7; 11
8. Great Britain, 2-4-7-8-8; 6
Great Britain SailGP Team penalized six points
France SailGP Team penalized two points

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SailGP Season Championship (after 7 events)
1. Australia, 55 pts
2. United States, 53 pts
3. Japan, 51 pts
4. Spain, 43 pts
5. New Zealand, 42 pts
6. Great Britain, 41 pts
7. Denmark, 38 pts
8. France, 35 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.
• Race scoring provides 8 points for first, 7 points for second, etc.
• The final race in each event 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 for the top three teams from the season ranking for 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, Quentin Delapierre
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 race.

Source: SailGP

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