SYDNEY – February 15, 2019 – You could feel the tension in the air this morning as the boats started craning in and the morning activities got underway for Great Britain SailGP – regatta briefings, official weigh ins, full team meetings and sailing team preparations.
The British sailing team morning briefing was upbeat and full of smiles, with the guys hotly debating the emotive subject of team song selection team, when team CEO Chris Draper backed up by coach Joe Glanfield re-focused the team on how far they have come and how proud everyone should feel about the progress to date, “After only 10 days of training on the water, we already know we are capable of winning races,” commented Draper, “I am so proud of how far we have come as a team in our journey to date. We have a such strong group of people in our team – a collection of really talented and spirited individuals – and by pulling together we know have everything to gain from here.”
SailGP Championship race one action got underway in tricky conditions averaging around five to seven knots and today was all about getting good starts, staying on the foils, trying to find clear wind and, in this first race, Nathan Outteridge and his Japan SailGP team gave a masterclass leading from start to finish. China and France were fastest off the start line with the Brits mid fleet getting to the first turning mark in 4th place. They worked well to climb to up to 3rd but then incurred a penalty against the French, meaning they had to slow to let them move ahead. Then in a dramatic finish, the French failed to cross the finish line enabling the new British team to take a podium 3rd place in their first ever SailGP race.
Results race 1 – Japan; China; Great Britain; Australia; USA; France (DNF)
Race two saw a much more aggressive start from Skipper Dylan Fletcher and his British team. Still quite light and puffy out there, the Japanese, Brits and Australians hit the line at pace. The Japanese team incurred a penalty at the start and so had to go to the back of the fleet. Dylan Fletcher and Tom Slingsby held their teams neck and neck to the first turning mark. Despite a good first half of the beat, a few critical manoeuvres cost the Brits some speed allowing Australia to stretch ahead. The Brits battled well to get back into contention and ended the race in 4th place to hold on to 3rd place overall after two races. Tom Slingsby and the Australia team led the way with Nathan and the Japanese team pushing them all the way to the finish to take 1st and 2nd.
Results race 2 – Australia; Japan; USA; Great Britain; France; China
The final race of the day was held in the continuing tricky breeze, average 5 knots only. Another strong start from Dylan and his team showing great pace to mark 1 tucked in behind the Australians. Good breeze with all teams foiling but a poor gybe by the Brits let the Japanese through and USA close up. First leeward mark Tom Slingsby’s team led the way, keeping it all smooth, clean and text book. The British team dug deep and kept fighting until the end of the final race of the day to take another 4th place to round out the day.
Results race 3 – Australia; Japan; France; Great Britain; USA; China
Comments from the team after racing
Dylan Fletcher, Skipper:
“It was incredible to finally get the SailGP Championship underway here on Sydney Harbour. There was a lot of action in some pretty tricky conditions for foiling that tested our resilience. I am super proud of how our team raced today with some fantastic starts and comebacks. Ultimately our manoeuvres let us down, now it’s time to looks at how we can improve on those for tomorrow and as we move forward.”
Chris Draper, CEO and Wing Trimmer:
“We are really stoked after today’s racing - only our 11th day in the boat. A positive start to our series, always over-taking boats. We did the hard stuff really well and the easier stuff let us down. Interestingly our gybing had been a strength in training and we struggled today and then did four glamour gybes after the finish. We had a couple of great starts and then a couple of costly mistakes and that was the difference between what could have been a fantastic day and what ended up as a good day on the water.”