The Great Britain SailGP Team secured a strong second place and nine valuable Championship points in the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, the opening event of SailGP Season 3.
After consistent fifth and fourth finishes in the opening two races of Day Two of Bermuda Sail Grand Prix action, the British team qualified for the final podium race alongside the Australia and Canada SailGP Team.
Ultimately, however, an error in the pre-start in that final race meant the British were late to the start line in the ‘winner-takes-all’ race which proved costly. The team turned things round with a strong performance throughout the race and an impressive 100% flight time to take second place from the Canadians but it was Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team, the Season 1 & 2 champions, who took home the first title of SailGP Season 3.
Reflecting on the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix team CEO and Driver Ben Ainslie said: “It’s been a great week of sailing. We had fantastic conditions for the past two days, it’s been a real showcase for SailGP. There’s a long season ahead and we wanted to take a more conservative approach after some of the challenges we had last season. This event is a first step in the right direction.
“The final race was difficult for us as we had a bad start. We had an approach that we wanted to come in a little bit late, gybe on the foil and then go over the line. Unfortunately, we messed up the gybe and killed too much and couldn’t get to the line. After that start we had to get loose to give us a chance of moving back up the places. We were able to split and separate and move back past Canada and towards Australia.
“Australia, however, sailed a fantastic race and it was always going to be difficult to move up on them. It was clear we weren’t going to get past Australia unless they made a horrendous error. At that point we decided to start to protect second place and stay in front of Canada. With 11 events throughout the season, this competition rewards consistency. I don’t like losing but we use that as motivation and learn from it and it was important we took home the second place.”
Race 4 - NZL WIN, GBR 5th
It was a dramatic first start to the day as the French Team were given a black flag for an aggressive manoeuvre at the starboard gate which nearly caused a collision with the British team. Ainslie and his crew, however, managed to hold their nerve and rounded the first mark in mid-fleet.
With steadier conditions, it proved tricky throughout the race for the British team to move up the fleet, battling out in the middle positions with the Canadians, Americans and Australians. At the front of the fleet, meanwhile, Sehested's Denmark SailGP Team and Burling's New Zealand SailGP team were racing neck-and-neck for the lead.
Ultimately it was the New Zealand team that won the race following an error by the Danish at their final gybe. The British Team finished the race in fifth, just ahead of Jimmy Spithill's USA Team. A boundary penalty for the Canadians saw them drop to seventh, which meant the British leapfrogged them to the top of the event leaderboard ahead of Race 5.
Race 5 - AUS WIN, GBR 4th
After being slightly late to the start, the British once again found themselves in midfleet rounding the first mark. This time, however, Ainslie's team aimed to get out phase with the rest of the fleet in the early stages to try and move up the leaderboard.
It was another consistent racing, with plenty of tight crosses up against the Danish and American teams in second and third places respectively. In the end it was Tom Slingsby's Australian Team that took the race win, meaning they would compete in the final event podium race against the British and Canadian crews.
Podium Race - AUS WIN, GBR 2nd
An error in the pre-start proved costly for the British team in the final podium race of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix as they were late to the start, behind Australia and Canada.
After gybing early, throughout the race British Team kept out of phase to find space and try and find a big shift to fight back. Despite having to sail extra distance to find more speed, the British finally crossed ahead of Phil Robertson's Canada Team on the fourth leg and moved into second place.
Slingsby's Australian Team held onto the lead, however, with a flawless performance as all three teams achieved 100% flight time, and took home the event win. The British finished the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix in second place, securing a strong 9 Championship points in the Season 3 opener.
SailGP Season 3 resumes in the United States Sail Grand Prix in the 'windy city', Chicago, from 18-19 June.