• Sir Ben Ainslie’s crew secured second place in the first of three fleet races
  • Emirates GBR Driver and CEO Ainslie lands in Chicago just hours before event
  • Team will focus on securing three solid races on Saturday
Season 4 // Emirates GBR // British F50 on day one in Chicago

Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team has finished fifth overall on day one of racing in the first event in Season 4, the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix in Chicago.

Crowds lined Navy Pier as the teams battled it out on the iconic freshwater Lake Michigan to make the best possible start to the season. After practice racing was called off on Thursday due to strong winds, the Teams were eager to get on the water for the first day of Season 4.

Emirates GBR Driver and CEO Sir Ben Ainslie literally flew into action, as he landed in Chicago just hours before the first fleet race began due to personal reasons. America’s Cup athlete Giles Scott was on standby ready to take the helm if need be, but Ainslie was able to get to the event and into the F50 drivers’ seat with time to spare.

Season 4 // Emirates GBR // British F50 overhead shot day 1 Chicago

As the clouds cleared in the windy city, the first race got under way with Tom Slingsby’s Australia leading the field and Emirates GBR starting the race off in fourth position. Ainslie’s crew pulled off seamless maneuvers and found good wind on the course to push up to second place. After a tight fight with Canada towards the end of the race, Emirates GBR managed to maintain their position and finish second to Australia.

In race two, it was all to play for as Australia missed the start line as they approached too fast and had to make a U-turn to avoid a penalty. Emirates GBR were unable to take the course like they did in race one and crossed the finish line in seventh place. For race three, it was a very tight start for the entire fleet, with France first across the line before then falling off the foils and losing their position. It ended with another Australia win and Emirates GBR finishing in eighth place.

Season 4 // Emirates GBR // British F50 with Navy Pier on day one in Chicago

Speaking after the racing, Ainslie said Chicago provided “perfect conditions to get back into action”. “We had a good first race but not so good in the second and third so we are going to need three solid races tomorrow,” he said. “In the second race we didn’t have a good start so we were struggling mid-fleet and lost a couple where we were second in the gate. “The final race we just couldn’t get over the Kiwis so we had to hold at Mark One which didn’t help with bad air from the other boats coming back in.

“But all things considered it was OK, we would have preferred slightly better results but we know we’re going to need three good races tomorrow so that’s what we will focus on”.

The second day of racing kicks off tomorrow at 22:00 BST and UK viewers can watch all the action live from Chicago on ITVX.