Great Britain wins Italy Sail Grand Prix
Published on September 24th, 2023
Ben Ainslie’s Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team overcame an event of two halves by winning the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix on September 23-24 in Tranto, Italy. This is the team’s second consecutive win as the Brits topped Tom Slingsby’s Australia and Jimmy Spithill’s USA in the finals.
The racing in Taranto began in windy and wild conditions but the second day was marred by light winds that eventually would disappear and cause the final podium race to be terminated.
The race for the final was hotly contested, and while Great Britain and Australia had their ticket stamped, the United States needed – and got – a collapse by the French on the final downwind let to gain entry.
It was a comeback for Spithill whose team saw teammate Hans Henken injured the day before when their F50 catamaran crashed off the foils and submerged the leeward hull where Henken was positioned, knocking him unconscious for a short time. Henken went to the hospital for observation but was in good spirits.
Taylor Canfield was ready to replace Henken, but with the light winds, the league called for teams to reduce from five to four crew, leaving Canfield on the sidelines.
As the final three-boat podium race took place, the wind started to shut off and despite the race management’s best endeavors and trying to shorten the course, the 16 minute time limit came and went. With the termination of the final, scoring returns to the qualifying fleet races in which Great Britain topped the leaderboard.
USA had led the final to the leeward mark, but Australia got leverage and a puff to jump ahead. The Brits trailed both, but at the time of termination, they were set to claim the lead. “It was a roller coaster ride but I’m just delighted for the team after a really solid performance over the five races this weekend,” said Ainslie. “It was a good win.”
At the prize winning ceremony, Ainslie gave Emirates GBR’s strategist Hannah Mills credit for the team’s win – due to her excellent ability to spot the best conditions to get the boat to the front of the fleet – and it was Mills that proudly lifted the winners trophy aloft.
“Considering how challenging it was I think we were literally at zero knots for quite a lot of the race and it was so intense,” said Mills. “We just kept calm and always felt like there was going to be an opportunity to get back into the race – and there was. But we ran out of time, so it was a tough race.”
Reining Season Champions Australia made up the final podium spot and has hung onto its overall lead from Great Britain and Deigo Botin’s Spain, although Slingsby is still looking for that elusive win in Season 4.
“I think the British deserved the win,” shared Slingsby. “We found ourselves saying it’s good for the overall points but it would be nice to win. They had the best points and I think that’s a lot fairer than if we finished that race somewhere and it would have been who’s ahead at the right time. We got told when they called it off we’re ahead but I don’t think we deserved to be ahead so I’m happy for the British.”
The European leg of Season 4 of SailGP concludes in three weeks with the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucia-Cadiz on October 14-15.
ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix
1. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 2-2-3-1-2
2. Australia (Tom Slingsby), 1-1-5-5-7
3. United States (Jimmy Spithill), 5-6-8-3-1
4. France (Quintin Delapierre), 3-4-2-7-6
5. Canada (Phil Robertson), 6-5-4-6-4
6. Spain (Diego Botin), 9-8-7-2-3
7. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 7-3-1-9-9
8. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 8-7-6-8-8
9. Germany (Erik Heil), 10-9-9-4-5
10. New Zealand (Peter Burling), Did not compete
Season Standings (after four of 12 events; results and total points)
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby), 2-3-2-2; 35points
2. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 7-6-1-1; 29
3. Spain (Diego Botin), 5-1-3-6; 29
4. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 4-2-4-7; 27
5. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 1-7-8-DNC/6; 23
6. United States (Jimmy Spithill), 9-5-5-3; 22
7. France (Quintin Delapierre), 6-8-6-4; 20
8. Canada (Phil Robertson), 3-4-10-5; 18
9. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 8-9-9-9; 10
10. Germany (Erik Heil), 10-10-7-8; 6
• Canada SailGP Team: Docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
• Germany SailGP Team: Docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix
• New Zealand SailGP Team: Granted six event points for Italy Sail Grand Prix as unable to compete due to wing damage suffered at France Sail Grand Prix.
Season 4 – 2023
June 16-17 – Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Los Angeles
September 9-10 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 23-24 – Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto
October 14-15 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía- Cádiz
Season 4 – 2024
January 13-14 – UAE Sail Grand Prix | Venue to be announced
February 24-25 – KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 23-24 – ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Auckland
May 4-5 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
June 1-2 – Canada Sail Grand Prix | Venue to be announced
June 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | New York
July 13-14 – SailGP Season 4 Grand Final | San Francisco
Format for Season 4:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• Up to seven qualifying fleet races of approximately 15 minutes may be scheduled for each regatta.
• The top three teams from qualifying advance to a final race to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000.00 USD event prize money purse that’s divided among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race for the top three teams in the season standing with the winner claiming the $1m USD prize.
For competition documents, click here.
Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing among national teams in some of the iconic harbors around the globe.