Australia put in a masterfully consistent performance amid a congested fleet to finish top of the podium after the first day of racing on the Bay of Cádiz.
In a key day for flight controllers, crews were forced to choose between speed and stability as ocean swells transformed the nine flying F50s into bucking broncos.
The Aussies finished the day with a 6-1-2 racing record across the first three Fleet races, but close racing throughout means Australia and France are tied on 24 points heading into the second day of racing.
Tom Slingsby’s crew struggled in the first race of the day, which was won by Peter Burling’s Kiwi team, as choppy conditions forced errors from the most experienced crews.
However, a race win in the second race and a second place finish in the third behind Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain puts Australia in pole position heading into Race Day 2.
Australia will face fierce competition however with just five points separating the top of the leaderboard from home favorites Spain in sixth place.
Quentin Delapierre’s France didn’t claim a race win, but did scoop a high 2-4-3 fleet racing record. Great Britain meanwhile battled back from an uncharacteristic eighth place finish in the first fleet race to pick up a second place in the second race of the day and a confident win in the third, finishing with 22 points overall.
Home town heroes Spain seemed to be thriving under pressure at the beginning of the day, finishing fourth and third in the first two fleet races, but a difficult third race saw the team finish in seventh, dragging down their overall score to sixth.
Elsewhere, Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark struggled to combat the ocean swell and did not feature throughout the day, finishing at the bottom of the pack below Switzerland in eighth.
The nine F50s will return to the racecourse for a further three fleet races before the three-boat winner-takes-all Final on Sunday at 4pm CEST.