Eight months after SailGP’s conception, the championship’s inaugural season will come to an ultimate conclusion on Marseille’s Rade Nord racecourse and the champion of SailGP’s Season 1 Grand Final will be crowned.
Australia’s Tom Slingsby has dominated throughout Season 1, winning three of the four events this season, but not without challenge from Nathan Outteridge and the Japan SailGP Team. Marseille has seen the atmosphere of intensity thicken between the two competitors. Both helmsmen have turned on the aggression and traded their share of remarks about their old friendship and rivalry. While there is six points between them on the overall leaderboard, this is now irrelevant. It all comes down to one, 10-minute match race.
Outteridge has shown a new side in Marseille, one of aggression. He has made it clear on the racecourse that he’s here for the prize, friendship aside.
“I think it shows how aggressive we’ve started to get towards each other,” said Outteridge. “The match race is what we’ve been gunning for all year. The Aussies have got by a few too many times but we know what we need to do to fix that before the match race, we are walking out of here with a million dollars.”
“It’s a lot of money on the line,” said Slingsby. “I’m going to be aggressive today, he’s been aggressive, trying to get us in the fleet racing. Today he’s got to worry about us. We’re coming for him.”
With US$1 million, one of the largest monetary prizes in sports, on the line, both teams will be giving their all and to see its name engraved onto the Thomas Lyte designed SailGP Championship trophy as the first ever winner of SailGP.
Slingsby is staying closely guarded when it comes to strategy.
“We need to do a better job of starting. If we start well, I am confident,” said Slingsby. “We do really well in match racing but with the super tight boundary I have been making mistakes which I can’t do today. If we get off the line clean, we will have a good race.”
The pressure among competitors was palpable after yesterday’s intense racing, as it stands, there are two ties within the fleet to be decided. Phil Robertson and the China SailGP Team plans to come out fighting, his success during Saturday’s racing - scoring the team’s first win of the season - tied him with Dylan Fletcher’s Great Britain SailGP Team for third place.
“We have one more day to prove ourselves. I think we have performed really well this event. We still we can give a lot more and that's the main thing we are focusing on,” said Robertson. “If we can go out tomorrow and sail better than we sailed today we will be stoked, and the results will be the results.”
The former Match Race World Champion came out flying to win race five. But Fletcher’s team won’t give up his spot on the podium easily. Audiences can expect a duel within the fleet as both teams duel for the final spot on the podium.
The United States SailGP Team also find themselves in a tie for fourth with the home water favorite’s Billy Besson’s France SailGP Team. A disappointing breakdown on the first day of racing in Marseille knocked them down the leaderboard significantly. Rome Kirby’s young United States SailGP Team will be eager to prove they can remain in contention but Besson is desperate to give the home crowd something to cheer about.
After four events and three continents it all comes down to today.
Limited tickets are still available for both the Seawall and on-water spectator experience. The Fan zone at the J4 Esplanade, where fans can enjoy live broadcast and commentary will open at 12pm. Visit SailGP.com/Marseille for details.