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SailGP: All to play for in Bermuda as 10 teams take to the Great Sound

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SailGP takes flight on the crystal clear waters of Bermuda’s Great Sound for the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix this weekend May 4-5, marking the tenth stop of the global sporting league’s Season 4 calendar and the third time SailGP has partnered with Bermuda Tourism Authority to bring the action to the island.

High-impact and adrenaline-fuelled racing is set to take place in perfect racing conditions with all teams determined for a win in the pursuit of a place in the $2 million Championship Final Race in San Francisco in July.

The drama that plagued the fleet in Christchurch showed no signs of stopping when Taylor Canfield’s USA team capsized during official practice racing. Just 24 hours before the opening day of racing in Bermuda, the US team capsized in the third practice race of the day, en-route to the first rounding mark.

No serious injuries were sustained by any of the athletes but it could be a long night for the SailGP Tech Team – and an anxious wait for the team – as the wing sail suffered significant damage during the impact.

SailGP
Image © Samo Vidic for SailGP

Going into the weekend confidence is high for Peter Burling and the ‘Black Foils’ as his team stole the show following victory in front of a record home crowd at the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch in March. It marked New Zealand’s fourth win of Season 4 – the most by any team this season – and the team will be looking to keep hold of top place at the end of the weekend.

Reigning SailGP champions – Tom Slingsby and the Australia SailGP Team – were one of the teams that experienced a tough time in New Zealand. The Aussie’s collided with a course marker, causing significant damage to their F50 which ruled them out of the remainder of the event.

Australia was hit with an eight point season penalty that has had a huge impact on its league position, dropping down to second place in the overall standings and now only a few points ahead of Spain and France in third and fourth respectively.

Slingsby said: “It’s very harsh, I understand that the league wants to keep the boats apart. We disagree with the amount of penalty points – we don’t think we deserved the most in SailGP history and we don’t think it was reckless sailing. We’re just going to move on and get a great position here.”

In a race against time, the Australia team has managed to beat all odds and will be on the start line this weekend, after its F50 has been deemed ‘race-ready’ due to speedy repairs made since the previous event.

Slingsby said: “The boat is in great shape and a big thank you to all those that have got the boat back together – for their time and effort. Everyone put in a lot of work and many hours so a huge thank you to the SailGP Tech Team for getting us back on the water.”

Australia wasn’t the only team to be hit with overall season point penalties in Christchurch, Giles Scott’s Emirates Great Britain, as well as Nicolai Sehested and the ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team, were both given eight event points and four season points penalties due to separate incidents so will be looking to redeem themselves in Bermuda.

Scott said: “We had our fair share of dings in Christchurch and picked up penalty points which clearly isn’t ideal. We’ve had a big internal review of that and gone over what we can do to make sure that doesn’t happen again. We have to learn from it but we are very excited to be back here on this beautiful island and to get racing.”

The racing drama in Christchurch resulted in a huge shake-up of the Season 4 leader board and left the ‘race for third’ wide open with Diego Botin’s Spain, Quentin Delapierre’s France and ROCKWOOL Denmark looking like favourites to take the final podium position. With just four events remaining of the season, and $2 million on the line in San Francisco for the final Championship Race, Bermuda will be a crucial event for the teams.

Delapierre said: “We are super happy with where we are now – the dynamic of the team is going well. Christchurch was an unbelievable grand prix for us – we are focusing on getting into the Final in San Francisco but I think Peter Burling made sure he could control the final. All these teams are trying to beat him now and we’ll see if we can beat the team in Bermuda.”

The stage is set for an epic weekend of racing, with the weather forecast ideal for fast foiling conditions that will thrill the fans at the new Morgan’s Point Race Stadium. The entertainment will also continue off the water with live entertainment hosted for the first time on island with an Aprés Sail Party immediately following racing on Saturday – featuring soca sensation KES THE BAND.

Ahead of the weekend, SailGP’s Inspire program has activated across the week with its three pillars: Learning, Careers and Racing to host hundreds of Bermudian youth on the island to make a positive and lasting impact on the community.

Inspire offers an exclusive behind the scenes SailGP tech tour at the SailGP Tech Site at Cross Island and lessons that teach the science behind sailing and more. Additionally, the BF&M No Limits Sailing Programme, in partnership with Endeavour, will offer opportunities to students who are on the autism spectrum or who have developmental challenges to experience hands-on learning opportunities with SailGP Inspire.

The Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix gets underway tomorrow, Saturday May 4, with live racing between 2-3.30pm on both days. To secure the last remaining tickets visit SailGP.com/Bermuda. For details on how to watch around the globe visit SailGP.com/Watch.

APEX GROUP BERMUDA SAIL GRAND PRIX //
Day One Racing: Saturday, May 4, 2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. ADT
Day Two Racing: Sunday, May 5, 2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m. ADT

SAILGP SEASON 4 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after nine events) //
1 // New Zealand 68 points
2 // Australia 59 points
3 // Spain 55 points
4 // France 54 points
5 // ROCKWOOL Denmark 50 points
6 // United States 48 points
7 // Canada 46 points
8 // Emirates GBR 45 points
9 // Germany 27 points
10 // Switzerland 22 points

Main image © Felix Diemer / SailGP

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