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AS IT HAPPENED: San Francisco SailGP Day 1

4 MAY 2019News
The fleet on the first day of official racing in San Francisco.

Race 1

The first race of day one brought success for the Japan SailGP team helmed by Nathan Outteridge on San Francisco Bay. There wasn’t a clear winner from the beginning, with several lead changes, between the Great Britain SailGP team, the Japanese team and the Aussies.

Boats surged off the start line, rounding the first mark with less than 10 seconds separation between the entire fleet. Early in the race, The United States SailGP Team lost their edge, but had an impressive comeback, contending at the top of the fleet and claiming fourth place in race one.

The Brits took an impressive lead by more than 250 meters on the downwind but quickly lost it, crashing down off their foils at the bottom of the course, where choppy conditions required more focus.

The Australian SailGP team suffered a penalty during one particularly close cross, during which the British helm Dylan Fletcher had to steer to leeward to avoid their stern safely.

Steady racing, consistency and focus from the Japanese team allowed them to take the lead during the U.S. SailGP debut.

This racing is highly tactical, and decisions on the racecourse are made quickly. One slip-up can mean going from first to last in a matter of seconds.

The day kicked off with official fly-bys of all six nations teams which saw 12 knots steadily increasing at the start of the first race. Flat water made for super smooth foiling, a welcome break from the choppier conditions during practice earlier in the week.

Stay tuned for fleet races two and three.

Race 2

Winds ramped up to 20kts and waves built on the Bay as the Japan SailGP team took yet another win on San Francisco Bay. The Australians came back from the fourth position to take second just behind the Japanese. The classic rivalry between Japan team helmsmen, Nathan Outteridge and Australian helm Tom Slingsby was in full effect in the final leg of the race with tight separation between the two teams.

Team Japan didn’t control from the beginning, the Brits were in charge for the majority of the race, doing a beautiful job keeping the Japanese boat from making any aggressive moves on his lead. Holding them off until the last leg when a split from the Japanese on the second to last leg cost dearly and saw both the Australian and U.S team pass.

Racing at full-throttle, the top four boats were all within 50 meters of one another during one downwind leg.

At the conclusion of race two, the Japanese SailGP team remain at the top of the leaderboard by just one point.

With breeze on San Francisco Bay filling in at 20 knots, the third race today is sure to be even more high-adrenaline than the first two.

Race 3

It’s a three-peat for the Japan SailGP Team on San Francisco Bay. The team established the lead in the first half of the race and from then there was no looking back, at one point putting more than 250 meters between themselves and the second-place boat.

The Japanese team put pressure on the Great Britain SailGP team who held the lead off the starting line, slowly overtaking them and moving into first place. Outteridge nailed the start with speed, starting slightly behind the fleet but allowing himself to gain speed in order to roll the competition.

The battle waged on between the Australia SailGP Team and the Brits for second place, with Australia holding second on the third leg but the Aussies incurred a boundary penalty giving it up and finishing almost a full minute behind the British team.

Finishing just 10 seconds behind the Aussies, the U.S. team made impressive moves up the leaderboard, starting in sixth place and finishing just beyond the podium in fourth. The young team has proved they can handle the boat in heavy conditions and fans saw them making impressive tactical decisions looking for a lane to move ahead.

A very dramatic day of racing concludes, but rest assured, there will be more intensity on the water tomorrow.