Sitting joint-second in the SailGP Championship table the Great Britain SailGP Team will return to action tomorrow in the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix on Plymouth Sound in what will mark Ben Ainslie’s first event in six years racing in front of a home crowd, 10 years after his famous fourth and final Olympic Gold medal in Weymouth in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
With thousands of spectators expected to line the glorious natural amphitheatre of the Plymouth Hoe to cheer on their home team, Ainslie is, more than ever, looking forward to the action ahead: “I grew up not far from here and it’s great to be back on home waters and racing in front of a home crowd. 2012 feels like a long time ago but there’s always a huge extra push to try and turn it on in front of the home crowd so we’re really looking forward the weekend.
“Plymouth's a unique venue. It's great for SailGP because we have this natural amphitheatre up here on the Hoe and then the breakwater helps try keep it reasonably flat water which is great for these F50s. I think the forecast for the weekend is really going to turn it on with some good breeze. Unfortunately I missed the event last year so I'm probably a little bit down on experience of racing on Plymouth Sound but we've seen from the last events it's really tight racing and I think we should just expect more of that.”
The British team began their on-water preparation on the Sound yesterday (Thursday), hitting the water in light and sunny conditions. On the day the team were joined by British rugby legend Chris Robshaw who joined the exclusive club of those who have had the opportunity to sail on the high-octane F50 catamaran. Speaking about the experience Chris Robshaw said:
“That was amazing. As experiences go that was probably number one. Being able to sail on the back of that and seeing the speed at which it moves a couple of metres out of the water was just phenomenal. Best of luck to the team this weekend, I’ll be cheering them on and I’m sure they’ll smash it”.
Robshaw, however, won’t be the only notable guest joining the GBR SailGP Team in Plymouth this weekend. On Sunday, July 31, the Great Britain SailGP Team will welcome The Duchess of Cambridge, Royal Patron of the 1851 Trust, who will visit Plymouth and join a group of young people taking part in the Protect Our Future program. Her Royal Highness will then get a taste of the incredible speed and skill involved in SailGP when she boards Ainslie’s British F50 and takes part in a friendly Commonwealth race against UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, who will race with Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s New Zealand SailGP Team.
Her Royal Highness’ visit as Royal Patron of the 1851 Trust represents part of the team’s wider commitment to not only win on the water this weekend, but off the water as well, as the team seeks to build on its second place finish in the Impact League table at the Chicago Sail Grand Prix. Showcasing the team’s commitment to keep its carbon footprint for the event as low as possible three of the team’s sailors, Neil Hunter, Matt Gotrel, and Luke Parkinson, cycled to Plymouth for the event covering an epic 450KM.
The Great Britain Sail Grand Prix will be live for British fans unable to make it to Plymouth on Sky Sports and SailGP’s YouTube channel from 2PM BST on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st July.