SailGP Season 2 ended on a positive note for Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain SailGP Team with the team finishing in second place both in the San Francisco Sail Grand Prix, the final event of the season, and in SailGP's Podium for the Planet, the Impact League. The SailGP Season 2 Grand Final meanwhile was won in dramatic fashion by Tom Slingsby's Australia SailGP Team after the race was initially abandoned and delayed significantly due to a whale on the course.
It was a full on final day to SailGP's second season, with the gusty southerly breeze off of the city leading to tricky conditions which saw not one but two significant collisions. The GBR team finished in third and second in the two respective races, which contributed to a second place finish for the event, and a fourth place finish in the overall SailGP Season 2 Championship leaderboard, just short of qualifying for the final 'winner-takes-all' $1million podium race.
Earlier in the day it was announced the British team finished in second place in SailGP's Impact League. The award marks a first in sport where athletes and teams are rewarded for positive environmental and sustainable actions in a league running parallel to the main sailing championship.
The off-the-water competition was won by Blair Tuke and Pete Burling's New Zealand SailGP Team. Throughout the season the British team focused on giving climate change teaching resources to schoolteachers, as well as looking at ways to make a series of small changes to make big differences to reduce its carbon footprint and use of plastic. In finishing in second place, the Great Britain SailGP Team won $35,000 for the team's Race For The Future partner, the 1851 Trust for their Protect our Future climate action platform.
The future of British sailing, meanwhile, looks to be in safe hands as there was one British winner in San Francisco. Hattie Rogers, who hails from Lymington, competed against the top young athletes from around the world to win the SailGP Inspire WASZP Grand Final, the culmination of Season 2's Inspire Racing x WASZP series.
Reflecting on the day's action, and SailGP Season 2, Ben Ainslie said: “It was a random day with that unusual southerly breeze coming off the city and leading to absolute carnage on the water, which I’m sure was entertaining to watch.
We had a particular full-on incident in race two. Coming down the run at around eighty kilometre-per-hour on starboard tack to the Kiwi’s and French we were inches from a big collison, a heart in mouth moment we won’t forget for a long time.
Congratulations to Tom (Slingsby) and his team on a great series, they certainly earnt their win. For us it was great to finish on a high note with a second for the event and fourth overall for Season 2 with lots of positives to take to Bermuda”
Race 4 - NZ WIN, GBR 3rd
The opening race of the second day of the United States Sail Grand Prix was initially abandoned after a significant wind shift led to a mark breaking loose, with the Race Committee having to reset the course, evidence of the tricky conditions the teams were facing in the San Francisco Bay.
In the restart the British crew rounded the first mark in mid-fleet, with Sehested's Denmark SailGP Team having to pull out due to technical issues. The moment of the race, however, came at the second mark when Jordi Xammar's Spain SailGP Team collided with Jimmy Spithill's USA F50, causing significant damage to both boats.
Ainslie and his crew navigated the course well in the gusty and changeable conditions to finish the race in third place, behind Pete Burling's New Zealand SailGP Team and Tom Slingsby's Australia SailGP Team.
Race 5 - AUS WIN, GBR 2nd
The USA SailGP Team sat out Race 5 to repair their F50 ready for the Grand Final to compete for the $1million dollar prize. With the Spanish and Danish teams both out for the day too, it was a five boat race for the event title.
A strong start for the British crew saw the team round the first mark in third, with Slingsby's Australian team leading the way. Further drama, however, unfolded as with Ainslie's team on starboard tack, with the right of way, the New Zealand and French boats collided as both tried to avoid the British boat.
The subsequent leg saw a big gain for Slingsby's team, with the British F50 chasing the Australians down. The Australia SailGP Team did not however give any opportunities away and crossed the finish line to win the San Francisco Sail Grand Prix, with the British following in second position.
The outcomes of the day's two races saw the Great Britain SailGP Team finish in second place in the San Francisco Sail Grand Prix and in fourth place overall in the SailGP Season 2 leaderboard, just short of qualifying for the final 'winner-takes-all' podium race.
SAILGP SEASON 2 GRAND FINAL - AUS WIN
A thrilling race with neck-and-neck racing and all the teams leading at one point was abandoned with a whale on the course, only adding to the tension in San Francisco. Whilst waiting for the reset the wind continued to drop falling to five knots and less in some places on the course.
In the restart in the light winds, Slingsby's Australia SailGP Team were able to get up on their foils first, taking a commanding lead into the first mark. A near faultless performance from then on saw the Australian team extend their lead throughout the race to take home the SailGP Season 2 title, winning back-to-back championships, and the $1million prize.
SailGP resumes in Season 3 in the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix from 14-15 May. For more details visit: https://sailgp.com/races/season-3/bermuda-sail-grand-prix/overview/