It was a disappointing opening day in Plymouth for the Great Britain SailGP Team, as the home team ended Race Day 1 of the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix in last place in the leaderboard after an eventful day’s racing.
Despite managing to finish second in the final race of the day, Interim Driver Paul Goodison’s Team totaled just eight points across the three races – not helped by a two-point penalty imposed due to boat contact in race 2.
The United States ended the day topping the leaderboard with France and Australia – the dominant team in the opening two races – rounding out the top three, while Italy Sail Grand Prix winners Japan disappointed to finish seventh – just a single point above the Brits.
There was also a SailGP first in Plymouth on Saturday, as the Spain SailGP Team was shown a Black Flag seconds into race 3 due to its starting maneuver causing high risk to the US F50.
Despite forecasted lighter winds, the decision was made before racing to utilise the traditional five crew onboard set-up, and on-water gusts reached nearly 20km/h.
The Aussies – who struggled with the three-up configuration in Taranto last time out – made the most of the conditions to impress on Plymouth Sound, but it was the United States’ consistency which saw Jimmy Spithill’s Team end the day in first place.
UNITED STATES TOPS GREAT BRITAIN SAIL GRAND PRIX LEADERBOARD AT END OF RACE DAY 1 BUT BRITS DISAPPOINT ON HOME WATERS
With a huge number of fans watching the racing from Plymouth Hoe, and plenty more on-water spectators, Tom Slingsby’s Team won the first two races, before the US claimed victory in race 3 to sit in pole position to qualify for the winner-takes-all Final on Race Day 2.
Australia’s early dominance began right from the start of the event, winning Race 1 by a clear margin and repeating the feat in the second race of the day, ending 37 seconds ahead of the Denmark SailGP Team presented by Rockwool.
Speaking from the Australian F50, Slingsby said: “We’ve started well but there’s a long way to go. We are sailing well, getting good starts, sailing with confidence, and showing if we get out in front we are hard to pull back.
“It’s no secret that light air is our biggest weakness – and it’s my weakness – but we’ve been working on it. The last event in Taranto was a bit embarrassing for our team, and I felt bad for not doing the team justice. So we’ve worked on our light air and it’s working so far.
“But there is a long way to go yet.”
Slingsby and his team appeared to take a breather in Race 3 – finishing seventh – and the race became a much tighter affair. SailGP’s first ever Black Flag was shown to Spain due to a risky starting maneuver causing high risk of collision or capsize to the United States, but Spithill took it in his stride to guide the US to victory.
Great Britain put in its best showing of the day in this final race, leading for the opening stages before dropping behind the US to finish second. Having finished last in race 1 and seventh in race 2, and also penalised two points for boat contact, Goodison has a lot of work to do on Race Day 2 if the Brits are to be in with a chance of qualifying for Sunday’s three-team Final.
Denmark – which recorded its best ever SailGP race finish of second in race 2 – New Zealand and Spain complete the table in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively at the end of Race Day 1.