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Emirates Great Britain tops leaderboard after close fought opening day at SailGP Canada

Yacht Racing Podcast

Emirates Great Britain driver Giles Scott has responded to his critics with a commanding performance to secure the top position following the opening day of racing at the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix.

The first ever ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix, which saw thousands of fans taking in the action along the Halifax waterfront, provided a number of challenging conditions with strong winds, rain and bitterly cold waters causing havoc for the drivers and their teams.

After Friday’s heated press conference which saw many of the drivers come to loggerheads over contentious issues at recent events, Emirates GBR driver Giles Scott, who has struggled since taking over from Ben Ainslie as driver of the team at the turn of the year, put in three consistent performances on the opening day of racing.

Scott said: “It was a good day and I was a little bit surprised to be out in front at the start of each of the three races, but we’re obviously pretty pleased.”

After the USA Team’s disastrous capsize incident which took them out of racing at the recent Apex Bermuda Sail Grand Prix, the pressure was on for driver Taylor Canfield to deliver a comeback for his team in Halifax.

However, the team endured another tough day on the water with three back-to-back last place finishes, leaving them with a mountain to climb going into Sunday’s racing. Canfield said: “It was a difficult day for us, we had some new players in key roles on the boat and it was a little bit of a trial by fire but, again, we’re learning and got a lot better throughout the day.”

It was the Canada SailGP Team that the home fans came to see and team driver Phil Robertson didn’t disappoint with a string of entertaining and energetic performances – in particular the final race of the day, which saw the Canada and Emirates GBR F50s come close to colliding as they both approached the finish line. Robertson and the Canada Team secured two top three finishes, ending the day in fourth place on the leaderboard.

Commenting on the home crowd, Robertson said: “It was pretty sick and the fans were unbelievable and I don’t think we’ve seen that yet at a SailGP event. I know that we had pretty big crowds in New Zealand but I think that this event has topped that. We’re stoked to be here in Halifax and the turnout has been unbelievable.”

Peter Burling and the New Zealand SailGP team look to be in a strong position going into the final day, securing second spot on the day one leaderboard. The Black Foils will be most happy about the performance of their nearest rivals in the overall Season 4 leaderboard, the Australia SailGP Team and Tom Slingsby, who finished the day in a lowly sixth place. Burling said: “It was nice to get off the start line reasonably well today and we’re really happy to put together three solid scores and be at the top end of the leaderboard.”

Image © Simon Bruty for SailGP

Elsewhere, Diego Botin and the Spain SailGP Team looked set to pick up where they left off after winning the Apex Bermuda Sail Grand Prix, securing victory in the first race of the day. However, the remaining two races didn’t go as well for Los Gallos, with the team finishing the day in fifth place, which means the hunting teams of ROCKWOOL Denmark and Canada have all to play for on Sunday.

ROCKWOOL Denmark driver Nicolai Sehested was able to overcome the challenging conditions to secure his team a third place position in the day one leaderboard. Sehested said: “It’s hard not to be happy and we’re still in the mix despite it being a tricky day. There are so many elements to today’s racing – you had to get off the start line the right way because of the wind and handling the boat was really challenging.”

With only five points separating the top six teams on the leaderboard, all teams will be on the hunt to earn a seat in the winner-takes-all Grand Final of the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix.

The final day of the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix gets underway in Halifax at 4 p.m. local time tomorrow, June 2.

ROCKWOOL CANADA SAIL GRAND PRIX DAY ONE STANDINGS //

1 // Emirates Great Britain 23 points
2 // New Zealand 22 points
3 // ROCKWOOL Denmark 21 points
4 // Canada 20 points
5 // Spain 20 points
6 // Australia 18 points
7 // France 18 points
8 // Germany 11 points
9 // Switzerland 9 points
10 // United States 3 points

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