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SailGP Spain outsmart New Zealand and Australia with a stunning victory in Bermuda

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Yacht Racing Podcast

Diego Botin’s Los Gallos got the better of two of the leagues heavyweights – Australia and New Zealand – in a tense three-boat final at the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix to win its second SailGP event of Season 4.

But it was not just the win the team was celebrating, it was also the fact it had extended its lead on fourth placed ROCKWOOL Denmark and fifth placed France to get one step closer to securing a spot in the all-important three-boat, $2 million Season 4 Grand Final in San Francisco in July 13-14.

After an emotional roller coaster to make the final – having to wait to see where Canada finished on the race course in the day’s second fleet race – the Spanish team had its work cut out.

Going head to head with the two top teams in the league – taking on the skilled Peter Burling’s Black Foils and reigning champions Tom Slingsby and the Australia SailGP Team. The Spanish sailed a very strategic final race to secure first place – with the Black Foils in second and the Aussies in third – in front of a roaring crowd at the newly located Race Stadium at Morgan’s Point.

“It feels like we are getting stronger and it’s just an amazing feeling,” Botin said. “The fleet is super tight now and everyone is pushing. We also made an error on the last turning mark in the fifth fleet race – we didn’t know if we were making the final or not at the finish. We cannot sleep after this either because otherwise the best teams will just get better and better and we need to progress and stay focused.”

SailGP
Felix Diemer for SailGP

Robertson’s Canada team gave the fleet a run for its money this weekend – staying hot on the heels of first place – placing second in three of the fleet races. This all came to an end when the Canadians fell off the foils in the lead up to crossing the startline of fleet race five – making it to mark one at the very back of the fleet and not managing to make a comeback.

“It’s genuinely painful to be honest,” Robertson said. “We have been in the situation when the shoe is on the other foot and snuck in and it feels pretty good but copping it on the chin is a tough one.

“We had a solid first race and put in a really solid effort and in the second race we had a horrible start but we were in the mix coming into the top gate and let it slip away right at the end there by letting a few boats slip past us. We probably should have stayed in front of them so that’s our own fault and something we’ve got to learn from but it’s disappointing and we’re gutted.”

With the event win, Spain has managed to nearly close the gap between them and the Aussies – who sit in second place overall. The Black Foils remain on top and the team was bringing high speeds to the racing this weekend – clocking the fastest speeds out on the water.

“It’s definitely been an interesting weekend for us – we made our life a little harder at times so it was nice to finish off with a couple of awesome starts and we are sailing the boat the best around the track, probably the best we ever have,” Burling said.

Reflecting on second place, Burling said: “It kind of feels like a bit of consolation prize to beat the Aussies to extend our lead on the overall leader board – we are obviously coming to these events to win so it definitely hurts to not feel like we were good enough this weekend and we just let it slip and we’ll go back and learn from that.

The weekend had its fair share of drama – starting with a user error that caused a capsize onboard Taylor Canfield’s US SailGP Team before racing even started – taking them out of the competition this weekend due to significant damage to the wing sail. And it continued when Slingsby and the Australia crew came ashore and disclosed that they believed there were technical issues with the F50 during racing.

“Yeah, look, I do think there’s some settings that were changed overnight somehow as we just didn’t feel like we had boat speed and there were a lot of weird things happening, which we didn’t have yesterday,” Slingsby said. “So, we’ll have to get to the bottom of that, but I don’t want to take away from Spain’s win, and they nailed that last start, and they were the best team. So, congratulations to them.”

On whether the Aussies can regain the top spot on the leader board, Slingsby said: “On the plus side, we’re back in the racing, and we got a podium in our first event back [after crashing out of New Zealand) and we’re happy with all of that. But the Kiwis are a stronger team than us, and they deserve the top spot. We’ve got a lot of work to do to catch them and we need to embrace the challenge.”

SailGP returns to North America for the final three events of Season 4 – landing in Canada for the first time in the league’s history for the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix in Halifax competing on the Harbor – between Georges Island and the Macdonald Bridge. Fans don’t have long to wait for their next fix of SailGP as the teams take to the waters less than a month from now – on June 1-2. For a front row seat in the heart of the action, visit SailGP.com/Canada.

APEX GROUP BERMUDA SAIL GRAND PRIX // FINAL STANDINGS //
1 // Spain 10 points
2 // New Zealand 9 points
3 // Australia 8 points
4 // Canada 7 points
5 // ROCKWOOL Denmark 6 points
6 // Germany 5 points
7 // Switzerland 4 points
8 // Emirates Great Britain 3 points
9 // France 2 points
10 // United States 1 points

SAILGP SEASON 4 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after ten events) //
1 // New Zealand 77 points
2 // Australia 67 points
3 // Spain 65 points
4 // ROCKWOOL Denmark 56 points
5 // France 56 points
6 // Canada 53 points
7 // United States 49 points
8 // Emirates GBR 848 points
9 // Germany 32 points
10 // Switzerland 26 points

Main image by Samo Vidic

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