The Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team finished third overall after a stunning day one of racing on Lyttelton Harbour at the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix.
This was the first day on the water for the British team after Friday’s practice race day was cancelled due to weather conditions. Today’s gusty winds on the harbour meant for high-speed action with a need for acute accuracy and decision making on the water. Emirates GBR crossed the start line middle of the fleet in race one but managed to climb the fleet to secure a third place, with the finish seeing Ben Ainslie put in a flip flop tack at the finish to narrowly pip Australia on the line much to the bemusement of their surprised driver Tom Slingsby.
Race two saw the team make an impressive comeback again jumping positions from a lowly 9th place to 4th in the last lap. The best was saved to last for the days closer, as Emirates GBR executed manoeuvrers well to secure a third place resulting in a solid third in the overnight standings.
Reacting to the day’s racing, Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team CEO, Ben Ainslie said: “It was a brilliant day of racing, fantastic venue with perfect conditions. It’s a tight racetrack and you’ve got to really trust yourself and the team that you can pull off those manoeuvres but as a team we were going well out there today.
It was a close and exciting day of racing with plenty of action between the boats at high speeds – hopefully it was the same for the fans watching.”
Emirates GBR welcomed All Blacks Legend, Richie McCaw, at the British camp today who got the chance to join the team as a 6th sailor out on the F50 before racing kicked off.
Coming straight off the water McCaw said: “What an amazing experience to jump on the boat and have a whip around Lyttelton Harbour. Until you sit there and feel the power of these boats and how fast you’re going across the water you can’t understand it. I knew it would be impressive but seeing it in action, these guys are skilled operators out there.”
Ainslie also commented saying: “It was brilliant to have Richie spend the day with the team and join us out on the boat as a 6th sailor today. He did a great job on the helm and clearly knows a thing or two about sailing as he looked like a natural out there!”
The crew also welcomed the talented Americas Cup athlete, Ben Cornish, to the line-up this weekend who jumped onto the grinding handles today, filling in for Matt Gotrel (GBR) who is recovering from a fractured sacrum bone following his overboard incident last time month in Sydney.
British fans can catch Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team back in action for the final day of racing at 2AM live here on Sky Sports or free on SailGP's YouTube channel.