Light and shifting conditions in Taranto Harbour, Italy saw the Great Britain SailGP Team have a mixed day of results on the first day of the Italy Sail Grand Prix with Paul Goodison driving the British F50 in his first ever SailGP event.
The crew line up was reduced from five to three by the race committee, to reduce the overall onboard weight and keep the fleet up on their foils in the light breeze. This meant the heavy grinders sat the day out with GBR wing trimmer Iain Jensen and flight controller Luke Parkinson taking up the slack and all the teams having a lesson in shorthanded F50 sailing.
Racing kicked off in a light 14-16 km/h breeze with the eight international teams jostling for position on a crowded racecourse, Goodison took a conservative approach rounding the first turning mark at the back of the pack.
The British trio steadily climbed through the fleet into fourth place before dropping off their foils to avoid a right of way with the Spanish and falling back into a sixth-place finish.
The US Team coped best in the shifting conditions to win the days opener.
The British team had a good start to race two approaching the line at pace and reaching the first mark just behind the Japanese and being chased down by the in-form US with the experienced Jimmy Spithill at the wheel.
Goodison fought off Spithill’s US Team well but slipped to a third-place finish behind Japan and Spain, after a tight tussle with the Spanish.
The final race of the day saw the light conditions continue. A mid-fleet start with few passing lanes emerging and a late penalty resulted in a seventh-place finish for the British team.
USA dominated to top the overall leaderboard with Japan, driven by double Olympic medallist Nathan Outteridge, sitting just below them on the overnight leaderboard after consistently finishing in the top three of every race.
British Olympic gold medallist Paul Goodison driving the F50 in his first ever SailGP event, standing in
for Ben Ainslie commented: "This week as been a big learning curve! First sailing with five and then today going down to three crew, this adds the pressure to perform as I have to do more than just drive the boat, that’s quite hard on me but very hard on the two guys in front.
"Obviously, we are hoping for more breeze tomorrow to free up my part in the boat handling loop which will mean I can make better decisions. We have our big grinders itching to get back on the handles, so fingers crossed they can get back onboard."
Tomorrow will see two more fleet races before the final top three podium race deciding the Italian Sail Grand Prix. Great Britain remain within touching distance of qualifying for Sunday’s winner-takes-all Final, sitting only six points behind third place Spain at end of play.