SailGP commentators have dissected all the racing action from Dubai’s bumper six fleet race schedule, including the ‘head in the hands moment’ of Great Britain’s boat-handling blunder in the Final.
Ben Ainslie’s team looked set to seal their first event win since Season 2’s Bermuda Sail Grand Prix 18 months ago when a messy final manoevure resulted in the British F50 falling off the foils. Stalled in the water, the Brits were promptly overtaken by both Australia and France.
All three broadcast commentators Emily Nagel, Stevie Morrison and Todd Harris expressed consternation at the incident, with Nagel calling it a ‘head in the hands moment’.
“Everyone thought they had it,” she said, “it was just a really unfortunate mistake to have made at that moment.”
Harris agreed, adding that ‘when Great Britain make mistakes, they get their money’s worth’. “They are big mistakes,” he said, referring to the team hitting an uncharted rock in Copenhagen’s practice and a last-minute penalty in Plymouth that barred them from the final. Nevertheless, he said, ‘it was so hard to watch them give up that race and lose it the way they did.”
Morrison meanwhile said the botched manoevure ‘shows what pressure can do to the best people’.
“I just didn’t see it coming,” he added, “they were looking rock solid all weekend.”
Elsewhere, all three commentators were ‘amazed’ at Australia’s incredible comeback, which saw the team battle back from an eighth place finish on the first day of racing to scrape into the Final and claim the win in the last seconds of the race.
“Australia’s comeback was beyond impressive,” Nagel said, “points-wise they weren’t doing great, but there’s always a little part of you that thinks they can do it.”
Morrison agreed, claiming the comeback proves ‘they are the best team’. However, he questioned whether it was a matter of Australia winning a place in the Final or New Zealand losing it.
The two teams were tied on points after fleet racing, but the Aussies finished higher in the final fleet race which meant they proceeded to the Final instead. Earlier in the day, the Kiwis were docked four penalty points for contact with Switzerland, without which they would have soundly beaten Australia to a place in the Final.
“New Zealand was silly to be that aggressive and get those penalty points,” Morrison said.
Nagel agreed: “If it wasn’t for that, they would have been in the Final,” she said. “That was a nice handout, which I’m sure Pete (Burling) is kicking himself for.”
Despite the error, the commentators agreed that New Zealand, which sits in second on the overall Championship leaderboard, remains on track to make San Francisco’s Grand Final.
“I still think they’ll be there,” Harris said, “but it’s a head-scratcher how they can be so good one moment and so bad the next.”