Emirates GBR SailGP Team sits in second place overall behind Australia after day one of racing at the final event of Season 3 in San Francisco.
Ainslie and crew executed a near-flawless performance, finishing the day with two second place finishes and a race win.
In each of the day’s three fleet races, the British team had close boat-to-boat battles with Quentin Delapierre’s team France, with both teams looking to secure the third and final spot in Sunday’s winner-takes-all $1m Grand Final.
In race one, Emirates GBR started towards the back of the pack but crucially in front of France, the British team then raced hard to sail through the fleet and finish in second place. Meanwhile, France finished in sixth place after a near collision with Canada which caused them to fall off their foils.
Ben Ainslie’s team had a solid start in race two and dominated the fleet to cruise to a near 400-meter victory ahead of the other teams. In race three, Emirates GBR secured second on the overalls by finishing just behind race winners Australia, and with France finishing race two and three in eighth and sixth respectively, Emirates GBR is now in pole position heading into the final day of racing.
Despite the cloudy conditions, crowds lined the bay area to cheer on the nine SailGP teams as they raced between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Speaking after the three races, Emirates GBR Driver and CEO, Ben Ainslie, said the team was “very happy” with the results on day one.
“We obviously had a game plan with the French and that worked,” he said. “We wanted to put a bit of pressure on France because we’ve seen that if they get a good start and get away, they can sail the boat really well.
“We know our boat handling is strong so if we’re in a bit of a street fight, more often than not, we should be OK. There was a lot at stake today and we are really pleased with the way the team came together.”
Emirates GBR Strategist Hannah Mills OBE said it was “a good old battle” between the Brits and theFrench.
“We had a plan and we managed to execute it, which is a really good feeling.
It was a good day but there’s still a lot to do, there is no time to relax as tomorrow we need more of the same.”
The first of two races starts at 22:30 BST on Sunday, before three teams enter the Grand Final podium race. UK viewers can watch live on Sky Sports or the SailGP YouTube channel.