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Australia SailGP Team come out all guns blazing on opening day in Bermuda

SailGP

Yacht Racing Podcast

After crashing out in the previous event, Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team completely dominated the opening day of the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix.

In perfect foiling conditions on Bermuda’s Great Sound, the Aussies secured two race wins and a third to firmly secure the top spot on the event leader board ahead of Canada and ROCKWOOL Denmark.

Drama started before the fleet took to the Great Sound with the official news that Taylor Canfield’s US SailGP Team would not be on the startline for racing this weekend after the teams’ dramatic capsize in yesterday’s official practice racing.

Data provided by the United States F50 defined the cause of the capsize as ‘user error’ – wing trimmer Victor Diaz de Leon meant to flatten the wing but instead accidentally pressed a button which inverted it when he was positioned on the starboard side of the boat.

Reflecting on missing out on racing Mike Buckley, US team CEO, said: “We knew right away what went wrong but we compete as a team and whatever the outcome is – whether it’s what we want – we win and lose as a team and we learn from it.

“It’s easy to point fingers at one mistake but very rarely in sports or business is it one thing that costs you that big thing. It’s usually a culmination of many things – so we’re trying to take some positives. We’re licking our wounds a little bit and we’ll be heading out and trying to get better for the next one.”

The newly appointed Race Stadium at Morgan’s Point provided fans with an up-close view of the spectacle the nine national teams put on due to Bermuda’s gusty winds – giving teams the opportunity to make bigger and bolder maneuvers. Slingsby and the Aussies were ready for vengeance from the very start of the day – managing to pull off perfect starts for all three races.

Slingsby said: “It felt like we were the Australia from previous seasons where we managed great starts and were hard to catch and we’re stoked. Everyone has their game plans but these are the best athletes in the world – only one person can get that spot and there’s 10 teams. We sailed really well, it was picture perfect conditions and we were just happy all day.”

Another team to light up the start line was Diego Botin and the Spain SailGP Team, who rocketed into the third race of the day at an incredible speed of 73 km/h – providing the team with a huge advantage. After a head to head battle with Nicolai Sehested and the ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team – Los Gallos strategically secured a win to finish the first day of racing on a high note.

Botin said: “I think it’s the first start we have done to surge in front of everyone and remain in front of everyone and it feels really good. We read the fleet really well – they were fighting for the bottom end and we found the space and ripped it.”

Phil Robertson’s Canada SailGP Team brought the heat as well – battling it out with the Aussies for the majority of racing. The Canadians were chasing down the Aussies for race one but managed to fall off the foils and drop behind Peter Burling’s ‘Black Foils’ until the very final coursemarker – slingshotting their way into second place and showing the teams they arrived in Bermuda ready to compete.

Robertson said: “If you’re not pushing hard, you’re not going to be winning, and we want to be winning. It’s all very close on the leaderboard, so we’ve got to go out tomorrow, get a good race one under our belt and then see what we need to do in race two.”

An unfamiliar sight was Burling and the New Zealand SailGP Team in the middle of the fleet – the Black Foils hold the highest number of event wins in Season 4 and sit on top of the leaderboard after a successful win at the last event on home waters in Christchurch.

Burling said: “We were trying a few things but obviously they didn’t quite go to plan. On the start with those high speed boards if you don’t get a good run at the end you go from being right in a good spot to being right at the back very quickly.

“We are here to try and win the event and will give it our all tomorrow. We were in touch with the front end of the leader board today, we got some solid results on the board and need to go out there tomorrow and finish the job.”

The teams pulled off some aggressive moves to make up for the large amount of season penalty points docked onto the overall scores of Australia, Emirates Great Britain and ROCKWOOL Denmark in Christchurch.

Sehested approached the first two races with a conservative mindset but decided to ramp up the competition for the final race when he ran Slingsby off the course – who was only meters away – in order to be sure the Danes secured second place to finish the day.

Sehested said: “We started a bit slow but we were also a bit gun shy – to make sure we didn’t incur any penalty points and then we slowly added a few layers and pushed a bit harder and I think that was the right strategy for today.

“At the last coursemarker we knew the Aussies weren’t going to beat us so we just wanted to make sure we didn’t give them any room to gain on us so we wanted to kill them early and kill them hard – there was a big gap so we could be quite harsh on them.”

Following the racing, the day finished with an Aprés Sail Party featuring soca sensation KES THE BAND. The final day of the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix gets underway at 2 p.m. local time tomorrow, May 5. For details on how to watch around the globe visit SailGP.com/watch . For fans in Bermuda, limited tickets are still available to witness the closing day – head to SailGP.com/Bermuda for more information.

APEX GROUP BERMUDA SAIL GRAND PRIX DAY ONE STANDINGS //
1 // Australia 28 points
2 // Canada 23 points
3 // ROCKWOOL Denmark 22 points
4 // New Zealand 22 points
5 // Spain 19 points
6 // Emirates Great Britain 15 points
7 // Germany 13 points
8 // France 12 points
9 // Switzerland 8 points
10 // United States 0 points

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