Australia wins Dubai Sail Grand Prix
Published on November 13th, 2022
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (November 13, 2022) – Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team delivered one of the more remarkable victories seen in SailGP to dramatically overtake both France and Great Britain from what had seemed respective winning positions to storm back onto the winner’s podium.
At the close of the Dubai Sail Grand Prix, Australia now leads the championship by nine points from New Zealand, with France one point further back, maintaining its position in the crucial top three placings. A good result from Great Britain in Dubai sees it just two points out of the Grand Final currently with four events left in the season, as the top four teams have started to pull away from the rest of the field.
But on the packed shorelines of Mina Rashid in front of sold out crowds the talk was all about Australia’s come from behind win.
Slingsby said: “I have no idea how we did that to be honest, I would want to replicate that every race if we could because whatever we did there was pretty incredible. That final was a blur, someone will have to explain to me sometime what happened but it was just unreal.”
Sir Ben Ainslie was on track for a first SailGP win in eighteen months as he led right up to the final gate before an error saw Australia and France sweep past them in the final seconds.
Ainslie said: “I think that is one of the best examples of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory that I have seen for a very long time, it’s hugely frustrating for the team, we had such a good weekend, and just missed the final move, but that’s SailGP, that’s sport, it happens.”
Earlier in the final podium race France had looked to have wrapped up the win as it enjoyed a huge lead, but a tactical error of its own saw Australia and Britain reel them in.
France driver Quentin Delapierre said: “It was a difficult race, it was frustrating, I feel like it was another example of how I’m still learning, but this is a great result for us as a team, our dynamic is amazing, and we are contenders now, we need to keep focusing on San Francisco.”
Elsewhere the final podium race delivered a first ever win for Spanish driver Jordi Xammar, while it was a frustrating result for Denmark, as Nicolai Sehested’s team saw its event final chances dashed on the start line of that same race by a technical issue affecting the onboard screens that relay critical information, forcing them to retire.
Race control awarded Denmark a fifth placed finish in the event as compensation. New Zealand saw its chances of the final also dashed by a four point penalty for contact with Switzerland in race five. That also resulted in a two point championship penalty for Peter Burling’s team.
After day one, and in second place, U.S. SailGP Team’s Jimmy Spithill had no illusions: the real battle would begin on day 2 at the Dubai Sail Grand Prix. “Tomorrow will be a reset; our goal is to make the podium,” said the team CEO and driver.”
On a light-air day that saw the F50s struggling to find enough breeze to foil the team scored a seventh, fourth and second-place; securing second-place overall behind Great Britain, and tied on points with New Zealand.
“We struggled in the first couple of starts – that was all me – but we managed to get it going in the last one,” said Spithill. He attributed the third-race success to the strong start, plus they finally cracked the code on how to break free of the pack.
“It’s nearly impossible to find space on such a small race track,” Spithill said. The day’s race course length (.4 nautical miles) was shorter than the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (828 meters = .44 nautical miles)].
With such a confined space to fit nine F50s, “It’s like the boats are stuck to each other with a piece of shock cord; we’re all just trying to get into clear air or find a clear lane,” said Spithill.
With the second day of racing’s wind forecast much improved (10 – 20 knots), SailGP planned to swap configurations on the F50’s from the light-air 29-meter to the all-purpose 24-meter wing sail. “It will be a completely different game,” Spithill had said. “With more wind, the mid-size wing, and a tight race track, tomorrow is going to be pretty full on.”
After the first day of racing, only two points separated second to seventh place in the event standings. “Our goal is to string together a few clean races tomorrow; making the podium is really the goal for us,” Spithill had added.
The United States SailGP Team’s Season 3 Grand Final berth is in peril after today’s inconsistent performance saw the team slide from second place overnight to finishing sixth overall at the final day of the Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas.
Mincing no words, U.S. SailGP Team’s CEO and driver Jimmy Spithill said, “We made too many mistakes today. In general we just didn’t sail well. Came into the day in second and are leaving it in sixth.”
Race 2 showed a brief glimmer when the American team returned to form and finished second, rebounding after its last place to begin the day. They needed a top-half finish in the final fleet race to secure their slot for the podium final but according to Spithill, “We just slid backwards, and got out of phase.”
After seven events in SailGP’s 11-event season, the team remained in seventh-place overall, but slipped to 11 points away from qualifying for the Grand Final in San Francisco in May. The next three events in Singapore, Sydney, and Christchurch, New Zealand will be crucial to regain the positive momentum the American team showed in the previous two events.
The saving grace may be that the SailGP racing has shown that anything can – and does – happen in the global championship. Case in point, Dubai fans were treated to one of the most thrilling podium final races yet in SailGP history. Multiple lead changes took place throughout, with Australia earning the win, France in second and Great Britain in third place.
SailGP’s global championship continues to conquer new frontiers with the first ever Singapore Sail Grand Prix the next event on January 14 and 15, 2023.
Final Results – Dubai
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby), 10 points
2. France (Quintin Delapierre), 9 pts
3. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 8 pts
4. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 5 pts *
5. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 6 pts **
6. United States (Jimmy Spithill), 5 pts
7. Canada (Phil Robertson), 4 pts
8. Spain (Jordi Xammar), 3 pts
9. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 2 pts
*New Zealand docked two points in event ranking for penalty in fleet race 5 against Switzerland, resulting in 2 championship points
** Denmark awarded 6 points in event rankings due to technical issues forcing retirement in fleet race 6
Racing occurred in Dubai on November 12 and 13, 2022.
Season Three Standings (after seven of 11 events)
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby), 60 points
2. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 51 points
3. France (Quintin Delapierre), 50 points
4. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 48 points
5. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 42 points
6. Canada (Phil Robertson), 40 points
7. United States (Jimmy Spithill), 39 points
8. Spain (Jordi Xammar), 22 points
9. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 16 points
*United States penalized 4 season points for incident with France
*Switzerland penalized 2 season points for incident with United States
*New Zealand penalized 2 season points for incident with Switzerland
2022-23 SailGP Season 3 Schedule
May 14-15, 2022 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess
June 18-19, 2022 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 30-31, 2022 – Great Britain Sail Grand Prix | Plymouth
August 19-20, 2022 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen
September 10-11, 2022 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 24-25, 2022 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
November 12-13, 2022 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas
January 13-14, 2023 – Singapore Sail Grand Prix
February 17-18, 2023 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 17-18, 2023 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 6-7, 2023 – United States Sail Grand Prix | San Francisco (Season 3 Grand Final)
Format for 2022-23 SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three qualifying races each day for all nine teams.*
• The top three teams from qualifying advance to a final race to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000 prize money to be split among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.
* Qualifying schedule increased from five to six races at France SailGP.
For competition documents, click here.
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 for event prize money as the season culminates with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.