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Victorious Ainslie tips Denmark as ones to watch following British-dominated SailGP season opener in Sydney

29 FEBRUARY 2020News

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 29 February 2020 – A spirited performance from SailGP newbies Denmark saw the team leave Sydney feeling ‘positive, but with a lot to learn’ following the first event of the season, according to helmsman Nicolai Sehested.

Great Britain SailGP Team, led by Ben Ainslie, spoiled the party for home team Australia to take first blood in the 2020 series – winning in dominant style with four wins from five races, before a victorious Match Race against the hosts in Sydney Harbour.

And following an exhilarating season opener, Ainslie highlighted Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL as ‘ones to watch’ ahead of the next event in San Francisco in May.

“I was watching Nicolai (Sehested) and the Danish team, and they’ve improved a lot through the racing over the last couple of days, and the training period before hand,” he said. “It’s really hard to explain just how tough these boats are to sail.

“I expect that in San Francisco, when all of the teams are using the new wingsail, that will be a benefit to Denmark. I expect them to be challenging for the top spots.”

For the Danes, the Sydney event came quickly and presented a steep learning curve following just 20 hours of training – but delivered a vital opportunity to gain experience in the supercharged F50 boat, in racing conditions.

“It was very difficult, very busy and very educational,” said Danish helmsman Nicolai Sehested. “All in all, a tough event for us, but that’s because we’re competitive and we want to do well, and be at the top of the leaderboard.

“We can’t beat ourselves up too much, we’ve only done two days of racing. It’s a learning curve and we have to take our time, but we do want to win - that’s why we’re here. I think we did have some good races and when we get away from it for a few days we’ll be happier with how we’ve done considering where we’ve come from.”

In the five fleet races in Sydney, Denmark showed plenty of promise – battling their way up into the podium places – but struggled to maintain those lofty positions in the face of stiff competition from some of the world’s best on-water athletes.

“We feel that we should be up there fighting, and we’re not far from it, but we’re making some silly mistakes that we need to clean up,” added Sehested.

“We’re going to go back and debrief. We need to change a few things but we can’t do that overnight. We will sail the boat differently in San Francisco and I think you’ll see some improvements in our positioning.”

The Sydney results leave Denmark sitting in sixth place in the overall rankings, ahead of France SailGP Team, as the fleet prepares for the next event on the USA west coast in just over two months. Great Britain lead the table, followed by Australia, Japan, Spain and the United States.

Sehested explained that the time before the next event gives the Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL valuable space to take the learnings from Sydney and put them into practice.

“We came into this event trying to do things our way, at our own pace. We’ve done that – and now we need to get into analysing the mistakes and how we should do things going forward. The season isn’t that long, so if we’re going to change something we need to do it soon.”

Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL results:

Race 1: 7th
Race 2: 5th
Race 3: 6th
Race 4: 7th
Race 5: 6th

Overall Rankings in Season 2:

  1. Great Britain – 47 pts
  2. Australia – 42 pts
  3. Japan – 39 pts
  4. Spain – 31 pts
  5. USA – 31 pts
  6. Denmark – 22 pts
  7. France – 14 pts