Season 4 // Emirates GBR // The fleet in Chicago on day 2
  • Light winds lead to a tough day for racing at Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix
  • Emirates GBR sits in seventh position after first event of Season 4
  • Team looking forward to Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix in July

Sir Ben Ainslie said Emirates Great Britain Sail GP Team would “come back swinging” in LA after a tough day of racing at the Rolex United Stated Sail Grand Prix in Chicago. Emirates GBR currently sits in seventh position in the Championship leaderboard after light conditions on Lake Michigan. Chicago, which is infamous for its changing weather, lived up to that reputation this racing weekend.

After practice racing was cancelled on Thursday due to strong winds, for Race Day 2 it was extremely light wind which led to a decision to have only four people on-board each F50. The start was severely slower than usual due to the lack of wind in the so-called windy city and the pace remained that way throughout. Commentators described the fourth race as a “slow motion dance on Lake Michigan”, but in the end Spain came out victorious, followed by USA and New Zealand, with Emirates GBR finishing in sixth.

Season 4 // Emirates GBR // Chicago overview with F50 wings

The fifth race began with a penalty for both Emirates GBR and Australia after they crossed the start line early. Both teams had to let all boats pass ahead of them, apart from Germany who had to do a U-turn at the start. As Emirates GBR did not complete the penalty before the Gate, they were then required to line up behind Germany, who were trailing behind the pack due to their rocky start.

This meant the team finished in tenth position, with Switzerland taking the win, Canada in second and France in third. The line-up for the final was Canada, New Zealand and Australia, with Peter Burling’s NZL securing the first win of the season. The Emirates GBR squad line-up consisted of Sir Ben Ainslie as Driver, Hannah Mills OBE as strategist, Iain Jensen as Wing Trimmer, Luke Parkinson as Flight Controller, Neil Hunter as Grinder, Nick Hutton as Trimmer/Grinder, Matt Gotrel as Grinder and Hannah Diamond as Strategist.

Season 4 // Emirates GBR // Crowds at Navy Pier

Ainslie said the penalty in Race 5 was a difficult moment for Emirates GBR. “It’s always a judgement call whether you’re behind or not but the umpires decided we didn’t do it properly which put us right at the back of the fleet and Germany were a long way behind, that was kind of the end of the race for us.”

Season 4 // Emirates GBR // Ben Ainslie in Chicago

Despite the event not ending how Emirates GBR would have liked, Driver and CEO Ainslie said the Team knows it can “perform right at the top of the league” and was looking forward to a fresh start in LA. “It wasn’t a great event for us,” he said. “We didn’t have the best day yesterday and certainly not today in the lighter conditions.

“It’s frustrating for the Team but we will go away and work out if we’ve got some issues, where they are and where we can get better. It’s a long season ahead of us so we’ve just got to keep our heads down, keep plugging away and come back swinging for LA.”