The Great British SailGP Team are out of the Australian Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG, after a collision with the Japan SailGP Team in the final race of the opening day. As the team onboard the British F50 were focussing on closing down the gap to the American boat in the pre-start, they did not see the Japanese boat. That error resulted in a significant crash with both boats unable to continue racing, but thankfully no one was hurt.
The day had started well for the British team in the opening race of the day. With the Great Britain SailGP Team racing neck and neck with Tom Slingsby's Australia SailGP Team throughout for the second place, behind Phil Robertson's Spanish team. It all came down to the final gate and leg where the British crew secured the advantage over the Australians and began chasing down the Spanish boat. In the end Robertson's Spanish crew snuck through just ahead of the British, with Ainslie's team finishing in second.
The second race of the day was equally exciting, with a fight for the lead between Nathan Outteridge's Japan SailGP Team and, once again, the Spanish team. Despite a strong start, the British team paid the price for falling off the foils in an attempted 'JK' manoeuvre and eventually finished in fourth place.
The third race collision before the start resulted in the British team being docked 6 points for the event, and 2 points for the season. Due to the crash, the Japan SailGP Team is unable to compete in their F50 on day two, the Great Britain SailGP Team will be withdrawn from racing under the contact and damage policy rule. The British team have offered to provide Japan SailGP Team their F50 and any support they require to enable them to go racing tomorrow.
This results in the British team finishing in last place in Sydney.
Reflecting on the collision, Ainslie said: “We were coming back in the final moments of the start fighting for the top of line in a defensive mode against the Americans. We just didn’t see them at all (Japan SailGP Team) which was devastating for both teams.
“Everyone was ok which is the most important thing, but sadly it probably means the end of our season as we receive hefty penalty points for the damage caused. It will also impact Japan, which is not what we want, and as is only correct we are giving them our F50 and any support they need to hopefully get them back out racing tomorrow.
“The first two races were great to be involved in, it’s super tight racing out there and all the teams were pushing super hard, so this was hugely frustrating for everyone, but that’s sport and we will dust ourselves off and go again in San Francisco.”
Action will resume in the second day of the Australia Sail Grand Prix at 5AM GMT on Saturday 18th December. All the racing is live on Sky Sports and for free on YouTube in the UK.