SailGP’s Abu Dhabi debut drew sell out crowds, hosted an exclusive performance from music superstars Take That and saw plenty of racing drama, from Canada hitting a race mark in Fleet Race 5, to Taylor Canfield’s revamped USA team picking up its best result yet.
Crews dropped down to four people on board when racing got underway on January 13, while the F50s were fitted with the largest 29m wing to make the most of the scant breeze.
The event got off to rocky start for Switzerland, which was penalized four event points and two season points for hitting Emirates GBR in practice.
Elsewhere, former Japan driver Nathan Outteridge subbed in as ROCKWOOL DEN driver for Nicolai Sehested, who was out on paternity leave, while Giles Scott had his debut as incoming Emirates GBR driver.
As racing got underway, it was Peter Burling’s New Zealand - fresh from a victory in Dubai - which gained the all-important inside track to Mark 1 and took the first win of the event - closely followed by Australia helmed by Tom Slingsby.
Light wind specialists Spain - which picked up their first event win in the light wind venue of L.A., took the next two race wins - putting themselves in pole position for a place in the Final heading into day 2.
Light winds continued on day two, resulting in a mass OCS penalty for 7 of the 10 F50s as Fleet Race 4 got underway.
Australia, France and Spain were the only teams which didn’t cross the line early and it was the Aussies which took the win - putting themselves at the top of the leaderboard heading into the last fleet race of the event.
Germany meanwhile had an excellent performance on the second day of racing - picking up a second and third place finish in the last two fleet races.
But an OCS penalty on the start line of Fleet Race 5 meant Australia had to drop behind ROCKWOOL DEN at the back of the fleet - and they failed to recover.
The team - which needed to come 5th to make the Final - came 9th instead and ended up finishing the event in 7th place overall.
This meant that Taylor Canfield’s USA won fleet racing on points and proceeded into the three boat Final alongside Spain and New Zealand.
Despite the USA fighting for the win throughout, an excellent start by the Kiwis proved unsurmountable for Spain and the Americans.
The Kiwis crossed the line to claim their second consecutive event victory and proclaim themselves back-to-back winners in the UAE.
Next up, the F50 fleet heads to Australia for the home event of Slingsby’s Aussie team. The KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney takes place on February 23-24.