The fifth event of Season 3 got underway with fast and furious racing on the city-side, iconic waters of Saint-Tropez, with plenty of drama, near-capsizes and crushing penalties.
It was an event of two halves, with strong winds hitting up to 45 km/h on the first day of racing resulting in all nine F50s exceeding speeds of 90 km/h.
But it was France that re-wrote the league’s speed racing record, hitting 99.94 km/h during the third fleet race of the Range Rover France Sail Grand Prix.
It came soon after Great Britain set a new speed record of 99 km/h in the first fleet race, while Denmark’s 94 km/h top speed was the lowest top speed of any team on Saturday.
Elsewhere, there was plenty of drama in boat on boat situations, resulting in crushing penalty points. Contact between Switzerland and the U.S. resulted in Switzerland being docked four penalty points, starting the event with -4 points, and a total deduction of two overall season points.
Meanwhile, contact between the United States and France in the fifth fleet race that was later abandoned saw Jimmy Spithill’s team deducted four overall season points, demoting the team’s position ahead of the Final from first to second.
Elsewhere, gusty conditions challenged crews, with Phil Robertson’s Canada coming close to capsizing on the finish line of the third fleet race on the first day of racing, while Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark just about righted its F50 before it tipped over completely in practice racing.
Elsewhere, aggressive match racing tactics from New Zealand’s Peter Burling resulted in Australia nosediving just meters from the finish line in the first fleet race, leaving the Aussie F50 floundering in the water to be passed by Great Britain, the United States and Spain.
The Kiwis once again dominated the opening day, claiming two fleet race wins out of three. Meanwhile Tom Slingsby’s Australia came back to claim the win in the second fleet race.
Conditions on the second day of racing however were the polar opposite to the first, with wind speeds range between 9 km/h and 16 km/h. The fourth race was terminated early and the fifth fleet race was abandoned altogether, leaving Great Britain, New Zealand and the U.S. to battle it out in the Final.
A costly penalty on the starting line to New Zealand and a perfectly executed gybe by the Americans saw the U.S. F50 streak out in front and cross the finish line to claim Jimmy Spithill’s first ever event win.
The reshuffling championship leaderboard now sees just point separating front runners Australia and New Zealand, while Great Britain has climbed back up to third place after being unable to compete in Copenhagen due to damage.
The racing action resumes in under two weeks with the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz presented by NEAR taking place on 24-25 September.