Spain has proven its pedigree as a light wind specialist after picking up two race wins and topping the leaderboard with 21 points on the first day of racing in Abu Dhabi.
After a disappointing 10th place finish in Fleet Race 1, Diego Botin’s crew bounced back to convert perfect starts into dominating leads.
Despite trailing rivals New Zealand for much of the third race, Botin executed masterful tactics against Peter Burling’s crew to pinch the win and solidify his position at the top of the leaderboard.
Speaking about the day, Botin said the team had ‘a good comeback’ - finishing the day ‘with two bullets’.
“It’s a sign that we have been working a lot in these light wind conditions,” he said. “We know it’s all about getting a good trigger pull at at the start, which we managed to do.”
But Spain will remain under pressure when racing resumes - the Kiwis sits just one point off the lead after dominating the first race of the day, followed by 10th and 2nd place finishes.
Everything is to play for heading into day two, with Taylor Canfield’s recently revamped United States sitting third overall with 19 points - just 2 points off Spain. Meanwhile just five points separate ROCKWOOL DEN in 7th from Spain in 1st.
It was an impressive day for Canfield’s American squad, with the team picking up 9-2-3 finishes and performing excellent starts to give the fleet’s most experienced teams a run for their money.
A new element of two reaching marks at the beginning of the race created a slalom start and put extra pressure on the starts. This meant teams trailing at Mark 1 were unlikely to move up the fleet - but Phil Robertson’s Canada proved there were overtaking opportunities available, with the Canadians transforming a 10th place position at Mark 1 to a 5th place finish in Fleet Race 3.
Elsewhere, it was a tricky day for Australia, with the Season 3 champions finishing the day 6th overall with a 2-9-6 race record. On his SailGP debut, Emirates GBR driver Giles Scott finished the day with three 7th place finishes, leaving the British 8th overall heading into day two.