Emirates GBR driver Ben Ainslie has called the Saint-Tropez showdown ‘an all-time classic Final’ as he reflected on the British team’s first win since Season 2.
The Brits went head to head against Season 3 champions Australia and LA winners Spain and left the Aussies trailing in their wake by executing a dramatic last-minute luff.
Emirates GBR pulled away at the last minute and crossed the finish line to seal their first event victory since Bermuda in Season 2. Since then, the Brits have been in multiple SailGP Finals, but failed to convert them into event titles.
Speaking after racing, Ainslie admitted the win had been ‘a long time coming’ and paid tribute to his crew.
“The team did a brilliant job all through the weekend and I feel like we made some big gains,” he said. “It’s been a frustrating period for us not quite getting the results, but now we’ve got momentum behind us.”
Strategist Hannah Mills agreed that the team has been ‘building for a long time’. “We’ve been struggling with different things and not quite clicking so it coming good here has been so amazing for the team”.
A crucial moment of the race saw Emirates GBR split from the Aussies, who were leading, at the final gate. “That did really well for us - it got us back in and we have the big incident with the luff on the Aussies - you’ve got to take those opportunities when you can," Ainslie explained.
Reflecting on the decision to split from the Aussies, strategist Hannah Mills said the team was ‘just waiting for the right moment to split away and separate'. "And it went well for us’.
She added that it had been an ‘incredibly hard’ weekend of racing on the Bay of Saint-Tropez.
“It was full on for everyone - we’ve been sailing the boat incredibly hard- it was all over the place so I think everyone feels a bit fried.”
Emirates GBR’s win followed a weekend of dramatic racing in Saint-Tropez, which saw a collision between Canada and Spain and New Zealand’s wing completely collapse shortly after racing on day one.
The F50 fleet will next go to battle at the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto on September 23-24.