Triple SailGP champions Australia have risen to the top of the leaderboard after the first day of aggressive racing in Cádiz, but have a slim one-point lead heading into day two.
Nicolai Sehested’s ROCKWOOL DEN are breathing down their necks in second place with 24 points after three consistent performances, while home favorites Spain are in third thanks to winning the first race of the day.
Despite a lukewarm 5th place in Fleet Race 1, Australia battled back to finish second in Fleet Race 2 and take the win in the final race of the day topping the metrics of highest average speed, fly time, distance and maneuvers.
Speaking after racing, driver Tom Slingsby said the team had worked hard to improve on their ‘shocking’ performance in practice racing.
“We learned a lot overnight, we looked at our rivals and saw what they were doing differently - it was just a few things we tidied up, but all in all we sailed way better,” he said.
It was a day of erratic performances, aggressive racing and tight boat-on-boat situations as the notoriously unstable sea state of Cádiz challenged flight controllers.
The first fleet race was packed with drama, with Switzerland disqualified after attempting to barge into the start line, forcing ROCKWOOL Denmark to avoid a collision.
A close call between France, Canada and Emirates GBR in the approach to the finish line almost resulted in a collision and an 11th hour penalty sent France to the back of the fleet.
Erik Heil’s Germany had a shocking start to the second fleet race when it was squeezed out of the line by the Swiss. Quentin Delapierre’s France meanwhile converted a dominating start into a commanding lead and took the second are win of the day.
Elsewhere, a growing feud between the Spanish and Canadians - sparked by a fallout over a collision in Saint-Tropez - saw aggressive match racing tactics deployed by Phil Robertson’s Canada to land a painful on-water penalty on Spain. This was followed by a late call to deduct the hosts 4-event points after damage was found on the Spanish F50 - the aftermath of Botin's team hitting a race mark in the scuffle.
Switzerland had another close situation on the start line of the third fleet race with France but Australia looked untroubled as they stretched away from the fleet to secure the last race win of the day.
Elsewhere, New Zealand had a lukewarm return despite a convincing performance in practice racing, picking up 4-5-8 race results to finish 6th at the end of the day. Ben Ainslie’s Emirates GBR also had a tricky day despite winning the last two events in Taranto and Saint-Tropez. The team suffered technical issues ahead of racing and finished with 8-10-6 results, making it almost impossible for the Brits to make tomorrow’s Final.