Team Australia Win All Three SailGP Races on Day One
Skipper Tom Slingsby and defending champion Team Australia won all three fleet races on the Great Sound in an impressive performance on the first day of the second season of the SailGP global league. Click Here to see Pictures of SailGP Bermuda 2021 Day One Set 1
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s hurried SailGP preparations quickly caught up with them as they endured a horror start to the opening regatta in Bermuda, with skipper Peter Burling describing it as “a baptism of fire”.
The New Zealand team, headed by Burling and Blair Tuke, and crewed by fellow America’s Cup winners, were at the wrong end of the three fleet races held amongst the eight teams.
Slingsby had his doubts after not having raced in 14 months due to a pandemic shutdown. But he had strong starts in all three races aboard his 50-foot foiling catamaran in the eight-boat fleet to take a big lead heading into the final day Sunday.
The Australians sit atop the leaderboard with 30 points, followed by France with 23, Japan 23, the United States 20, Spain 19, Great Britain 17, Denmark 11 and New Zealand 11.
Two more fleet races are scheduled Sunday, with the top three teams advancing to the winner-take-all final.
Slingsby, a former America’s Cup winner and an Olympic Gold Medalist, picked up where the first season ended in 2019, when the Australians won the championship and the $1 million winner-take-all purse.
Season two had started in late February 2020 with a regatta in Sydney dominated by newcomer Sir Ben Ainslie of Britain. But those results were voided after the season was postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.
While two other SailGP newcomers, U.S. skipper Jimmy Spithill and New Zealand skipper Peter Burling, were focused on their America’s Cup campaigns in New Zealand, Slingsby and his crew were riding out the pandemic in Australia.
“It was amazing to get out on the race track. It was windy, it was pretty wild,” said Slingsby, who added that it was a perfect way to settle into the new season.
“We had some doubts heading into the season,” added Slingsby. “We hadn’t been performing amazing in training, so it’s good to sort of silence those thoughts and know that we’re still talented, we’ve got the skills to win and we’ve just got to perform when we have to.”
A week earlier, the Australians capsized the American boat during practice while waiting for their boat to be commissioned.