SailGP is heading back to Sydney Harbour, with the Australia Sail Grand Prix announced earlier this month.
Added as the seventh event of Season 2 on 17-18 December, the AustraliaSGP means our ongoing campaign now boats nine events across three continents.
Twice before SailGP has visited Sydney Harbour for our thrilling close-to-shore racing, the first time as the inaugural event of our championship, and the second time in early 2020.
Given we are heading back to NSW later this year, SailGP.com decided to take a look back at our first two trips to Sydney Harbour.
The first ever SailGP stop was witnessed by more than 20,000 people who took to the water on the spectacular Sydney Harbour, providing the perfect amphitheatre for the kick off of Season 1.
Two intense days of racing saw our teams – then totalling six - do battle in the world’s most technologically advanced catamarans, competing to win SailGP’s first ever event to get points on the leaderboard in the race for Season 1’s $1million prize.
The green and gold F50 of the hometown Australia SailGP Team, skippered by Tom Slingsby, won the event on home waters.
Pre-race favorite Nathan Outteridge and his Japanese team actually led the leaderboard after the first day, and looked set to upset the home crowd. But Slingsby and his team were quick off the mark on Day Two, winning the first race and following it up with another race win to qualify for the Match Race Final.
Victory over Japan in this winner-takes-all encounter ensured Australia would go down in history as SailGP’s first ever event champion – and come the end of the campaign the Aussies had also been crowned our first ever Season Champion too!
One year later and SailGP was back in NSW for the first event of Season 2 – the only event before the campaign was delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In front of a huge crowd of fans, some on Shark Island and others on the water, home team Australia was defeated by Great Britain on Sir Ben Ainslie’s SailGP debut.
Ainslie dominated proceedings in Sydney Harbour, winning all three Fleet Races on Day One and also the first Fleet Race on the second day. Tom Slingsby’s Australia claimed victory in the final Fleet Race to join the Brits in the Match Race Final, but the local supporters were disappointed as Ainslie’s team got an early lead to control the race from the start, and the Aussies could never catch up.
It was a fine start to life in SailGP for Ainslie, who then went on to win his second event in our global championship 14 months later – once again beating the Aussies in a winner-takes-all Final as the Brits kicked off the restarted Season 2 in perfect fashion on Bermuda’s Great Sound.
There is sure to be just as much drama when we return to Sydney Harbour later this year, so click HERE to learn all you need to know about the 2021 Australia Sail Grand Prix!