PLYMOUTH - July 18, 2021
Paul Goodison, who is temporarily driving the British F50 in Ben Ainslie’s absence, delighted home supporters by signing off his two-event stint at the helm of the Great Britain SailGP Team with a race win in the team’s home Grand Prix in Plymouth.
In the second and final day of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix, Britain’s Ocean City Plymouth once again delivered stunning conditions for the eight-team fleet, the thousands of home supporters lining the Plymouth Hoe and the hundreds of supporter boats out on the water.
After struggling in the opening day, it was a much-improved performance for the British crew who finished third and first in their two races. That positioned the Great Britain SailGP Team in fourth of the overall Grand Prix table, just three points short of qualifying for the final winner-takes-all ‘Podium Race’.
With the American, Australian, and French teams ultimately qualifying for the final podium race, it was Tom Slingsby’s Australians who took the Grand Prix win in a neck-and-neck final. The results from Plymouth leave the Great Britain SailGP Team in second place on the overall Championship leaderboard, level on points with the leaders Australia SailGP Team, ahead of Ben Ainslie’s return to the British team in the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix in Aarhus in August.
Speaking after returning to shore cheered on by the home crowd, an emotional Paul Goodison said:
“That was an incredible day. It felt fantastic to cross the finish line in first place in front of our brilliant home support at the end. We had two very special visitors this morning in Andrew Simpson’s two little guys, Freddie and Hamish, they had their GBR T-shirts and hats on and they told us to go out and win a race today. It was a special to be able to do that.
“There was a lot of pressure to perform after yesterday and it was really impressive how the whole team rallied. There were so many positive vibes going out there this morning and then seeing all the fans and hearing all the noise coming from them on the water was just incredible.
“We only made small changes. We spent a long evening looking at the data and analysing yesterday’s performance. What we were trying to achieve was really similar to what we aimed to achieve yesterday, but we just did a little bit of a better job of controlling the boats around us.
“The team sailed incredibly well. There is a bunch of really talented athletes on the boat and all the team in the chase boat were incredibly supportive. For me, it’s been a great pleasure to have been involved in this team and I’m just thankful that we’ve given it back to Ben in a similar shape to what I took it off him. That’s a big relief.
“The team are in great shape for the rest of the season. We have seen with Ben leading the team they won two regattas out of two and I’m sure they will be very difficult to beat.”
Race 4 – JPN WIN
With a steady breeze on 18-19KM/H, it was a tight start with the New Zealand SailGP Team, temporarily driven by Arnaud Psaforaghis, and Nathan Outerridge’s Japan SailGP Team timing their starts best. The Great Britain SailGP Team rounded the first mark in fourth place.
After Japan and New Zealand split at the first leeward gate, the British took third place from the Spain SailGP Team on Leg 4 of the race, by which time Japan had sailed into a healthy lead. At the fifth mark Goodison’s British crew had second place in their sights, with Goodison audibly calling for Psaforaghis to give the British F50 room. Psaforaghis, however, did not comply and just held onto second place.
The British finished the race in third, keeping their hopes alive of qualifying for the final podium race but knowing it would require a win in Race 5 and a bit of luck to go their way.
Race 5 – GBR WIN
With the wind softening to 15-16KM/H, race 5 saw a perfectly executed start by Goodison’s British crew crossing the start line in a commanding position and leading at the first mark.
With the wind appearing favourable on the left-hand-side of the course, the British perfectly executed a gybe at the second mark to keep to the stronger side, and rounded that mark 17 seconds ahead of Billy Besson’s France SailGP Team in second place.
From then on, the Great Britain SailGP Team took advantage of the clean air in front of them to dictate the race and sail considerably less distance than the rest of the fleet. As Goodison and his crew crossed the start line in first place, loud cheers could be heard from the thousands of home supporters lining the natural amphitheatre of the Plymouth Hoe.
The results meant that the British team finished their home Grand Prix just three points short of the final podium race in fourth, with the Spithill’s Americans, Slingsby’s Australians and Besson’s French rounding up the top three.
Podium Race – AUS WIN
The final winner-takes-all podium race to take home the title at the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix was neck-and-neck throughout, with the lead changing frequently between all three teams due to high-octane racing combined with unforced errors.
The key manoeuvre of the race came on the sixth leg, when on a crucial cross Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team executed a perfect gybe in front of the French F50 in second place. That meant the Australian team, with local Devon hero Nick Hutton onboard, was able to take the win by six seconds.
The results from the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix leave the British and Australian teams tied on 22 points at the top of the SailGP leaderboard. The Championship leaderboard is incredibly close, with just five points separating the top and bottom teams. Great Britain SailGP Team CEO Ben Ainslie will return to drive the team’s F50 in the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix in Aarhus, Denmark on 20-21 August.