Australia wins Australia Sail Grand Prix

Published on February 25th, 2024

Tom Slingsby and his Australian crew have been crowned champions at the SailGP event on February 24-25 in Sydney, Australia. With the home crowd cheering them on, the Australia team secured its first win of SailGP Season 4 after missing out in the previous seven SailGP events – despite six podium finishes.

“To win after coming so close so many times and in front of our home crowd of Sydney with our family and friends watching, it really doesn’t get much better than this,” shared Slingsby.

Australia was the third ranked team after the qualifying stage, following leader Denmark and New Zealand. With all three teams motivated for the winner-take-all finale, drama began at the start.

It looked like the Kiwi team was best positioned as Slingsby held Denmark out, but when all but Denmark started early, they led at the first mark with both New Zealand and Australia picking up a penalty and having to slow down to get behind them.

An early split between Denmark and Australia allowed Slingsby to get back in the race and despite Danish skipper Nicolai Sehested gaining to within a boat length right before the final mark, it was the Aussies who crossed the line first, much to the delight of the cheering home crowd.

“It was a chaotic start, but they just kept pushing towards the line and we were all going to be early if no one stopped,” explained Sehested. “Everyone was pretty keen for some risk so we all went for it.

“We went full speed mode, we went really hard – we had a really good shot at it in the end but we were one boat length short and as soon as I saw that, that was it – that’s life sometimes you miss by one length.”

After the early start penalty, Slingsby was convinced it would be hard to get back in the race. “But the team did so well to set up so we could overtake the Danish to take the lead and get our first win of the season.

“It was hugely important to us. Personally, you start to doubt yourself when you’re not securing wins in the finals, especially when New Zealand has been doing so well lately, you start to question – are they better than us? To win in Australia, you couldn’t have written a better script for us, it was a mark in the ground where New Zealand had two event wins in a row, and we were up against the ropes on our home turf so to deliver like that is amazing.”

While the win keeps Australia at the top of the Season 4 leaderboard, it was not to be for the North American teams as both Canada and USA struggled in Sydney.

When storms cancelled practice before the event, the Canadians missed an opportunity to uncover an electrical failure which would occur at the start of race one and cause all systems onboard to shut down. With no hydraulics, the team was unable to sail in Races 2 and 3. While the technical failure was no fault of the team, the league did not offer any form of redress.

“You come here promised a boat to race with and when you don’t get a boat that’s race-ready, it does piss you off,” said skipper Phil Robertson. “You really start to ask questions about how they score these races – there have to be some ramifications.”

As for the USA, their inexperience showed on day one when the F50s were equipped with the high speed blades, which are faster but harder to use. While the team would get off the start line, they would gradually lose places as they struggled to keep the boat foiling in the unstable conditions. The only silver lining was getting third in the final qualifying races.

Sydney marked the third event for the newly revamped team, which was acquired last November by a prestigious group of owners and investors. As Team CEO and Strategist Mike Buckley pointed out, “Right now we are literally training while racing given the lack of days together on the water.

“Confidence comes from preparation and our team has 11 days total on the F50. However, every one of these races adds to the experience we need collectively to truly compete, it’s just going to take some time to get to where we all believe we can be.”

SailGP informationSydney detailsYouTubeHow to watch

Sydney Final Results
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby), 1-2-4-5-8-(1)
2. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 2-3-2-4-4-(2)
3. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 3-5-1-2-7-(3)
4. France (Quintin Delapierre), 5-4-3-9-1
5. Spain (Diego Botin), 4-1-8-7-6
6. Germany (Erik Heil), 8-8-5-1-9
7. Great Britain (Giles Scott), 9-6-7-6-5
8. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 7-7-6-3-10
9. United States (Taylor Canfield), 6-9-9-10-3
10. Canada (Phil Robertson), 10-10-10-8-2
Note: Canada SailGP Team did not start Fleet Race 2 and 3 due to mechanical issue.

Season Standings (after eight of 13 events; results and total points)
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby), 2-3-2-2-3-2-7-1; 66 points
2. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 1-7-8-DNC/6-4-1-1-3; 58
3. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 4-2-4-7-2-6-9-2; 52
4. Spain (Diego Botin), 5-1-3-6-6-10-2-5; 48
5. France (Quintin Delapierre), 6-8-6-4-7-4-4-4; 45
6. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie/Giles Scott), 7-6-1-1-8-5-8-7; 45
7. United States (Jimmy Spithill/Taylor Canfield), 9-5-5-3-1-8-3-9; 45
8. Canada (Phil Robertson), 3-4-10-5-5-3-6-10; 37
9. Germany (Erik Heil), 10-10-7-8-9-10-9-5-6; 21
10. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 8-9-9-9-7-10-8; 17

Scoring adjustments:
• 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
• Spain SailGP Team: Docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
• Switzerland SailGP Team: Docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council
• New Zealand SailGP Team: Granted six event points for ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto as unable to compete due to wing damage suffered at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez

Season 4 – 2023
June 16-17 – 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
December 9-10 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix | Dubai*

Season 4 – 2024
January 13-14 – Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix | Abu Dhabi
February 24-25 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Auckland
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
May 4-5 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
June 1-2 – Canada Sail Grand Prix | Halifax
June 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | New York
July 13-14 – SailGP Season 4 Grand Final | San Francisco
* Added October 3, 2023

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 (increases to $400k for Abu Dhabi with the winning team now earning $200k at each event).
• 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 $2 million USD prize.
• The top team on points ahead of the three-boat Championship Final will be awarded $350,000.00.

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.

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