Australia wins Great Britain Sail Grand Prix
Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team celebrated its first victory of SailGP Season Two, being crowned event winners of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix, as the thousands of spectators on Plymouth Hoe were also treated to a race win for the home team.
The Season One Champions were defeated by Great Britain in the final race of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix earlier this season, but made a comeback, ultimately winning the event after a three-boat final between Australia, United States and France.
“We’re now three events in, we’ve had lead changes at each one with different people winning each time, and we’re just starting the rollercoaster. We’ve got plenty more turns ahead,” says Slingsby.
“We’ve come from close to the top of the leaderboard, to down at the bottom, and now we’re back at the top. There’s no form guide, every team has its day, and we’ve just got to hold on for the ride to try and make that Grand Final in San Francisco next March.”
Celebrating with his Australia crew members was Nick Hutton, the team’s grinder, who hails from Devon, UK.
Hutton comments: “It’s always great to win and for me it’s extra special winning in Plymouth. It’s as close as I’m ever going to get to racing at home so I’m super happy. The last race was very hectic for us, we didn’t make it easy for ourselves, but it was great to get it done.”
The French team – driven by Billy Besson and with Brit Leigh McMillan onboard – was a contender over the entire weekend and never out of the top three. After a close final race – that saw multiple lead changes – they eventually took home the silver. With its second podium finish of the season, France has been consistently racking up the points to maintain a solid position among the top three overall leaders in the global championship.
After kicking off the season with two disappointing results due to sustaining damage to their F50 in both events to date, Jimmy Spithill’s United States SailGP Team took to the podium for a hard-fought third place finish in Plymouth.
While the British could not qualify for the final podium race in front of its home fans, interim driver Goodison earned the loudest cheer of the day when his team crossed the finish line to win the fifth race of the weekend. Goodison, in his final event driving the British F50 before Ben Ainslie’s return to the wheel, signed off his SailGP stint with a fourth-place finish in Plymouth.
“That was a special day. It felt fantastic to cross the finish line in first place in front of our brilliant home support at the end,” says Goodison. “There was a lot of pressure to perform and it was really impressive how the whole team rallied. There were so many positive vibes going on out there and then seeing all the fans and hearing all the noise coming from them on the water was just incredible.
“The team sailed very well. There are a bunch of really talented athletes on the boat and the team in the chase boat were incredibly supportive. For me, it’s been a great pleasure to have been involved in this team and I’m just thankful that we’ve given it back to Ben in a similar shape to what I took it off him. That’s a big relief.”
Preparing for the fourth event of the season, SailGP turns its attention to Aarhus, Denmark where driver Nicolai Sehested and the Denmark SailGP Team will play host for the first time at the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix, August 20-21.
Following Denmark, the league will complete its final two European events in Saint-Tropez, France (September 11-12), and Cadiz-Andalusia, Spain (October 9-10), before heading to the Southern Hemisphere for the Sydney Sail Grand Prix, December 17-18, to finish off 2021. Racing picks up again in the new year starting in Christchurch, New Zealand (January 29-30), and the Grand Final in San Francisco, U.S. (March 26-27).
The Great Britain Sail Grand Prix, Plymouth results were as follows:
3 United States
4 Great Britain
7 New Zealand
SailGP Season Championship leaderboard (after 3 events):
1 Australia – 22 pts
2 Great Britain – 22 pts
3 France – 21 pts
4 United States – 19 pts
5 Japan – 19 pts
6 Spain – 19 pts
7 Denmark – 17 pts
8 New Zealand – 17 pts