Sunday morning came with its challenges, before the start of race four, with some of the fleet dealing with on-water technical issues. But after a small delay to the start time, all teams were raring to go.
The first race proved to be just as exciting as Saturday’s racing. Rome Kirby and his young American team led off the start line and around the leeward gate. Four boats were over eager and received penalties for starting too early, with Japan, Great Britain, Australia and China restarting behind the fleet.
The American’s and the Australian’s continued to battle it out in a mini match race on the upwind leg. A big tactical risk, heading to the shifty right side of the course, paid off for the British team, overtaking both the Aussies and the American’s to go into the lead.
Brit Dylan Fletcher was determined to not give up the lead spot and with hunger from yesterday to get a race win, focused hard to put meters between the rest of the fleet. The Japanese team fought hard but it was Great Britain round mark 5 first and leading over the finish line, winning by 8 seconds.
In a surprise turn of events, the Japanese team took second, sneaking past the Australian team at the last minute when they came off their foils, burying the bow in the water just meters from the finish line and in front of a packed grandstand.
With Australia and Great Britain on equal points, the next race will be crucial to decide the match race participants.
Race win secures Australia’s place in match race final
A vengeful comeback, after getting overtaken by the Japanese team just before the finish of Race 4, saw Australian win race 5 and secure their place in the match race final against Japan.
Australian helmsman Tom Slingsby held Dylan Fletcher’s Great Britain team off at the start, putting them behind before the start gun even went off. Slingsby was gunning to be in the final match race from the beginning and made that clear from the start.
The United States again got the best start, leading the race until the gate 3 rounding just ahead of Australia and Great Britain. The fleet saw several lead changes between the top three teams on the final upwind leg of the race, with several close crossings from the British.
A penalty for not giving room to the U.S team at the final leeward gate saw Great Britain’s hopes of making it through to the match race final thwarted.
Japan scored their worst result of the weekend, finishing fourth, but may have been just saving themselves for the final as their place was already guaranteed.
This is Australia’s first win in San Francisco and came at a much needed time. Slingsby now takes on good friend and on-water rival Nathan Outteridge and the Japan team in the match race final to decide the winner of San Francisco SailGP.
RACE 6: MATCH RACE FINAL
Australia are come-back kids in San Francisco
Australia have done it again on San Francisco Bay repeating their victory in Sydney after a tight final match race against the Japanese team. Taking two wins from two events.
The two teams had an even start off the line. The closely matched competitors raced almost side by side to the first mark, but the Japanese held off the Australian’s until the first leeward gate. A slip from Japan nearly took out Australian’s windward rudder, the near contact slowed Japan down significantly, and allowed Australia to take back control of the match.
It’s notable that Outteridge and his Japan team was flying blind due to a technical failure, sailing completely by feel and unable to get any data feedback or display readings, including time and distance readouts to the course boundaries.
The competitors split sides at the windward mark, Japan was hoping to get clear air and accelerate downwind, but a bad gybe allowed Australia to put nearly 160 meters between themselves and the second-place boat.
It didn’t put Nathan Outteridge and his team completely out of the running, the two teams split again at Gate 5 as they headed upwind, and the Japanese were able to make up most of the lost ground. But it was too little, too late, and Tom Slingsby and the green and gold Australian team maintained his lead all the way to the finish.