In just the second event with the revamped roster, Taylor Canfield and the United States SailGP Team are in third place – just two points out of first – after Day One of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

Canfield’s starting strategy paid dividends on a day where light wind and a new “slalom-style” race course design placed a premium on securing a front-row start. The Americans capitalized on their great starts in races 2 and 3 to finish second and third, respectively, narrowly missing their first race victory in the second race.

Season 4 // USA underway on day one of Abu Dhabi

“We had a tough first race but I’m really pleased with how we rallied back with two strong finishes,” said Wing Trimmer Victor Diaz de Leon, referring to the team’s ninth-place finish in Race One. “Every day we are gaining confidence.”

To counter the light-air conditions and reduce the weight on board, the SailGP teams raced with the 95-foot wing and four athletes, rather than the standard six-person configuration.

Canfield credited Diaz de Leon for how quickly he’s mastering the very technical wing trimmer position. “Victor is doing a great job; he’s gotten a very good feel for [the position] very quickly and we’re fortunate to have him on our team.”

The U.S. SailGP Team is currently two points out of the lead, behind Spain and New Zealand in first and second place, respectively.

“We pushed hard today,” said Canfield, “I think people have been underestimating us. Granted we are sailing in light air and that helps, but we are progressing every day. Our foot is on the throttle and we’re not going to back down.”

Racing resumes Sunday at 5 a.m. EDT and will air live on SailGP YouTube and CBS Sports. Two fleet races are planned, followed by the deciding podium race that will include the top three teams.