The British team will be going ‘all out’ to secure a place in the three-boat, winner-takes-all showdown, driver Ben Ainslie has said, as excitement ramps up ahead of the Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco.
Speaking at a pre-event press conference, Ainslie revealed the team will be changing its racing strategy and ‘battling hard’ to get into the Grand Final. “We’ll be ready for a full-on race and give everything we can to win it,” he said.
Two-time defending champions Australia sit at the top of the leaderboard with an 11-point lead heading into San Francisco, and is the only team to have qualified for the Grand Final. New Zealand sits comfortably in second place and looks set to join the Aussies barring a disaster. But with just one-point separating France in third and Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team in fourth, the stage is set for a dramatic, last-minute showdown between the two teams.
Ainslie reflected on Season 3 so far, describing it as an ‘up and down season’. Despite a consistent performance, Emirates Team GBR hasn’t won an event and was unable to compete at all in Copenhagen after sustaining significant damage in practice.
“Copenhagen was a tough one, but it’s just about hanging in there,” Ainslie said. He added that the San Francisco event is ‘all about getting into the Grand Final’. “In a way, we’ve got zero to lose and everything to gain.”
The team will shift from its more ‘conservative’ racing strategy and ‘stepping it up’ when racing begins on Saturday.
The ‘level of competition’ and ‘type of racing’ means ‘there’s jeopardy written all over’ this event, he said. “I don’t think you can go into this thinking you’re the top dog or the underdog, it’s going to be a flat out race and an incredible spectacle.”
France driver Quentin Delapierre meanwhile gave little away when asked about his strategy for the weekend, but insisted he was ‘excited, not intimidated’ by the challenge ahead.
“It was our ambition at the start of the season to get a spot in the Grand Final in San Francisco, and I think we deserve our position today,” he said.
Meanwhile Australia driver Tom Slingsby was quizzed on the brewing battle between the French and British teams, but said he ‘doesn’t mind who wins’.
“It doesn’t phase us at all - we probably won’t be watching that,” he said. “We know both teams are dangerous and can beat us but it’s nothing to do with them, it’s about us.”
Kiwi driver Pete Burling agreed: "They’re both great teams, but personally we’re just worrying about ourselves and making sure we’re ready to go come that final race.”
Racing takes place on San Francisco Bay between 2.30pm-4pm PDT on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets to the Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final | San Francisco are available HERE. Full broadcast information and How to Watch details are HERE.