Tom Slingsby’s Australian crew has finished the first day of racing in Bermuda in third place, despite the team's mixed performance.
The battle between the world's top sailors erupted on the Great Sound, with the nine national teams, including newcomers Switzerland and Canada, going head to head in their identical, 2,400kg supercharged catamarans, in light air conditions.
The day presented its challenges for the reigning champions, with the added pressure of nine F50s now crowding the course.
Commenting on the racing, Tom Slingsby said: “We saw today that with so many boats on the course you are going to get punished for mistakes. I’d say consistency was hard to come by today and we saw it with the mixed results from even the top teams like Great Britain.”
The Australian’s struggled to start in a dominant position on the start line of the three fleet races, with the errors forcing the team to the back of the pack.
Tom Slingsby said: “It could have been a disastrous day, but we managed to finish up overall. We were a long way behind at times but were able to claw our way back and overtake boats right near the finish. I’m not happy with my starts and I need to do a lot better tomorrow, but as a team we are happy that we fought back well.”
Perhaps an even bigger surprise for the day was the Canada team’s dominant performance in their first day of racing. Under the guidance of driver Phil Roberston, the new side was able to remain at the top of the fleet during racing, securing a seat ahead of Great Britain and Australia at the top of the leaderboard going into the second day of racing.
Australian sailor Natasha Bryant also debuted in racing on board the Australian F50, demonstrating her elite ability as a sailor, seamlessly jumping into a tactician role on board the Australian’s flying F50 catamaran.
Natasha Bryant said: “Being onboard during racing and knowing that my family was watching back home in Australia was pretty special. There were a few big takeaways from racing like the importance of rounding marks in the clean air and speed that we can take into the next day of racing.”
Slingsby and his crew will now turn their sights to race day two, which will see all nine teams compete in two fleet races, before the top three teams compete in a final podium race.
Teams will compete for two trophies in SailGP, with the second season of the Impact League, SailGP's second podium for the planet, also starting in Bermuda. The Impact League tracks the positive actions the teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing. New Zealand were the first winners in Season 2, and driver Peter Burling is aiming for his team to defend its title as well as targeting a podium finish in the overall championship.
Race Day One Leaderboard:
Canada- 25 points
Great Britain- 23 points
Australia- 21 points
France- 20 points
USA- 16 points
Denmark- 15 points
New Zealand- 15 points
Spain- 14 points
Switzerland- 13 points