SailGP: the Australian team wins the British stage


Tom Slingsby’s Australian team won the UK stage of SailGP, with fans enjoying a great show on a sunny day in Plymouth

Thousands of fans flocked to Plymouth Hoe and hundreds of spectator boats lined the F50 Racecourse in Plymouth Sound as the sold-out Great Britain SailGP took place over the weekend of July 17-18.

Tom Slingsby’s Australian SailGP team celebrated their first SailGP Season 2 victory, being crowned the winner of the Great Britain SailGP event, as thousands of sun-soaked fans were also treated to a victory of race for the local team.

The Season 1 champions were beaten by Great Britain in the final race of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess earlier this season, but took their revenge on British waters to make a stunning comeback, ultimately winning the event after an exciting three-boat final between Australia, the United States and France.

Slingsby said, “We’re now down to three events, we’ve had leader changes each with different people winning each time, and we’re just starting the roller coaster. We still have a lot of turns ahead of us.

“We went from the top of the standings to the bottom of the standings, and now we’re back on top. There is no form guide, each team has its day, and we just have to hold on to try to make this Grand Final in San Francisco next March.

Celebrating with his Australian crew members was an ecstatic Nick Hutton, the team crusher, from Devon, UK.

Australian SailGP team in action. Photo Jon Buckle / SailGP

Hutton said: “It’s always great to win and for me it’s very special to win in Plymouth. It’s the closest I’m going to be able to run home, so I’m super happy. The last race was very eventful for us, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves but it was great doing it.

The France team – led by Billy Besson and with Briton Leigh McMillan on board – has always been on the hunt this weekend and has never left the top three. After a biting final race – which saw many changes of head – they finally won the silver. With its second podium of the season, France regularly accumulates points to maintain a solid position among the top three in the general classification of the world championship.

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Besson said: “We had a bad start in the first race and we know the starts are really important. The start of Race 5 was much better and we finished second which allowed us to advance to the final. We were very happy to be there and we tried to win but it was a tough race.

“We have learned a lot in recent events. We will continue to work to remain stable and stay in the mix. We are in a good position and we still hope to fight at the forefront by the end of the season, we are not here for nothing!

After starting the season with two disappointing results due to damage to their F50s in both races to date, Jimmy Spithill’s US SailGP team stepped onto the podium for a hard-fought third place in Plymouth.

Spithill said: “It was a good day because we did the final race again, but unfortunately we had a little technical problem on our starboard rudder which deteriorated throughout the day. It was a good result for the team, considering what had happened in the first two events. We moved up the standings to half the table and it’s very tight so we’re happy with that.

“Every time you race for the podium it’s a great position. The team sailed well all weekend and we have to keep doing it. We have to continue to put ourselves in a position to win a Grand Prix.

While the Briton was unable to advance to the final race on the podium in front of his home fans, interim driver Paul Goodison got the loudest cheers of the day as his team crossed the finish line to win the fifth race of the weekend. Goodison, in his last event behind the wheel of the British F50 before Ben Ainslie returned to the wheel, signed his SailGP stint with a fourth place in Plymouth.

Goodison said: “It was a special day. It was fantastic to cross the finish line in first place in front of our brilliant home support at the end. There was a lot of pressure to perform after yesterday and it was really impressive to see how the whole team came together. There were so many positive vibes this morning and then seeing all the fans and hearing all the noise coming from them on the water was just amazing.

“The team sailed very well. There is a really talented group of athletes on the boat and the chase boat team have been incredibly supportive. For me, it was a great pleasure to have been involved in this team and I’m just thankful that we returned it to Ben in a form similar to the one I took from him. It is a great relief.

Australia and Great Britain face off at SailGP in Plymouth, UK. Photo: Bob Martin / SailGP

Over the weekend, SailGP worked closely with Plymouth City Council to ensure fans could safely enjoy the high octane action from shore and on the water .

Plymouth City Council Chief Councilor Nick Kelly said: “All I can say is – wow! What an absolutely amazing weekend in Ocean City in Britain. The atmosphere along the waterfront was electric and Plymouth Sound really made for a fantastic scene for the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix.

“Not only that, but the week leading up to SailGP saw so many people in Plymouth getting involved and engaging in the ocean, including STEM sessions for schoolchildren and free sailing experiences for youngsters and youngsters. people with disabilities, which is amazing. “

SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts said: “The crowds loved it. I went for a walk during the race to see what the reaction was and they were really engaged. I think Plymouth should be really proud of the event here. They really delivered a magnificent event. One that I will certainly remember for a long time. “

In preparation for the fourth event of the season, SailGP looks to Aarhus, Denmark, where pilot Nicolai Sehested and Danish team SailGP will host the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix for the first time on August 20-21.

Sehested said: “It’s going to be fantastic to race in front of our home crowd in Aarhus. It will be a big event, hopefully with good winds and good sailing. In terms of pressure, that doesn’t change much, we want to perform in every event, but we are really going to have fun sailing in front of our fans and our family.

Focused on constant improvement, the Danish team finished the weekend with a third place in the last race in the fleet, to finish fifth in the standings. Japan, New Zealand and Spain completed the British Grand Prix standings in sixth, seventh and eighth positions, respectively.

After Denmark, the league will complete its last two European events in Saint-Tropez, France (September 11-12) and Cadiz-Andalusia, Spain (October 9-10) before heading to the southern hemisphere for the Sydney Sailing Grand Prix, in December. 17-18, to complete 2021. Races resume in the New Year from Christchurch, New Zealand (January 29-30) and the Grand Final in San Francisco, United States (March 26-27).

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