San Francisco – Friday 3 May, 2019 – So after being here in San Francisco since 21 April, the Great Britain team were ready for action for today’s ‘Official Practice Race’ here in the Bay. Conditions looked near perfect with around 10-12 knots and the breeze built steadily during the race window.
Following an initial Race Zero, Race 1 got underway – a clear start for all 6 boats, GBR and AUS both in good shape but Nathan Outteridge and his Japanese team flew through to first place at mark 1 with GBR rounding in 3rd - a mere 4 seconds between first and last place. GBR took an early gybe to head away from the city and out towards the breeze. At the leeward Gate, Japan rounded 1st with GBR up to 2nd, GBR again headed out to sea. A left shift appeared to help Japan to stay ahead. GBR tack in front of USA to hold onto 2nd, foiling tacks seeming to be way more common across the teams now. As the breeze built, GBR split gybes with Japan seeming to prefer the outer course area, further back USA and AUS and Fra were close together with China in 6th place with their new wing. By the bottom gate, Japan held a confident lead, with GBR hot on their heels. Japan took the win, with GBR in second place. The Australians in 3rd, France in 4th, USA in 5th with China taking 6th place.
By Race 2, the breeze had built to around 16 knots and with an ebbing tide, this lead to much choppier conditions on the race course. Teams Japan and Australia got off the line in great shape with the Brits back in 5th, but all super close, France showed a good burst of spped to shoot through into 2nd place. AUS were in 1st place by the leeward gate with GBR in 3rd and Team Japan back in 5th. The Australians held their lead, and the Brits and USA neck and neck behind. USA closed right up to put pressure on AUS. Dylan and his GBR team pushed hard up the beat, and suddenly the Japanese were back into it. It was a 4 way race at top gate – with AUS in the lead, GBR right on their tails, split downwind gate marks – GBR had a rocky gybe but all teams having their moments now in the building breeze. Japan yet again showed their skills and pushed ahead into first place crossing the finish line doing 44 knots with Great Britain SailGP Team in 2nd place followed by Australia, USA, France and China.
Practice Match Race – Japan and GBR
So after finishing 1st and 2nd in the earlier races, SailGP teams Japan and Great Britain go head to head in the practice match race and its Dylan Fletcher’s first ever match race! This time, its all about the focus on one other boat and then it’s a focus around time on distance before the start. At the final approach to the start, it looked like Japan might be over early but they sailed it spot on and pretty much lead from start to finish. Dylan and his team pushed hard to keep in touch but had one impressive splash down which curbed their chances to close the gap. Japan took the match race win. Clearly this young British team have made a massive jump since the last event in Sydney.
Dylan Fletcher, Great Britain SailGP Team helmsman commented after racing, “We’re pretty stoked after today’s practice session. The conditions were epic as expected and lived to up the hype and drama we expected. This is my favourite place in the world to sail and the team are loving every second. The training since we have been out here has made a massive difference. Since Sydney, we have been really focusing on improving our manoeuvres – we still have a way to go but our boat handling is significantly better. Also Stu has fully taken on the new flight controller system and Chris is doing an awesome job on the wing, as well as the grinders in delivering the power we need. Our aim today was to be as settled and smooth as possible – pretty challenging in the conditions out there! We wanted to sail our own course and keep our noses clean which we managed mostly. For sure there were hectic moments but we will keep on pushing and improving and hope to win a few races this weekend.”
EVENT DETAILS FOR THIS WEEKEND
The SailGP Race Village here in San Francisco is the perfect setup. Positioned on the city front between St Francis Yacht Club and Golden Gate Yacht Club, fans have direct and close-up views over the race course. The 800 seater Grandstand has live commentators (including British Olympic medallist Mark Covell) to entertain the guests as well as a hosted stage presentation, with the Adrenalin Lounge hospitality and media centre also in prime position. Guests, media and fans are in for an incredible spectacle this weekend so make sure you get down to the SailGP Race Village and support the Great Britain SailGP Team!
For followers and fans back at home, see below how to follow the action:
BT Sport – live host broadcast – full race replay and highlights
Sat 4 May, BT Sport 2, 2030 – 2200 BST
Sun 5 May, BT Sport 2, 2030 – 2200 BST
Facebook @SailGP: full race reply (on completion of days racing)