The first ever SailGP was witnessed by more than 20,000 people who took to the water on the spectacular Sydney Harbour, providing the perfect amphitheatre for the season kick off.
Two days of racing saw six national teams do battle in the world’s most technologically advanced F50 catamarans, competing to get the first points on the leaderboard and closer to the $1 million Season 1 prize.
In front of cheering crowds, the green and gold race boat of the Australia SailGP Team, helmed by local hero Tom Slingsby, won the final race of the day to earn the title in the opening event over Japan.
The Olympic gold medallist and his crew of flight controller and tactician Jason Waterhouse, wing trimmer Kyle Langford, grinders Sam Newton and Ky Hurst, and Kinley Fowler gave a masterclass to the rest of the fleet.
Though it was pre-race favourite Nathan Outteridge (AUS) and his Japanese team who were leading going into the final day and looked set to upset the home crowd, Slingsby and his team were quick off the block on the second day, winning the first race and shortly following it up with another race win.
A second and a third today for the Japan team guaranteed their place in the final match race and a chance to go head to head against the home team and line up against a close friend and fierce rival. The Australian team’s practice over the last few weeks paid off, and they lead the Japanese off the start and never looked back.
“We don’t take losing lightly and that first race of the event really shot us into gear,” says Slingsby. “I couldn’t be happier with how today went. I hold my team to a high standard and they really over delivered.”
Japan finished the first event with 45 points, three behind the Australians.
“Compared to the Australians, we’ve only done five days as a sailing team and I think that was what showed against them,” says Outteridge. “But the fact we were even racing was incredible and to make the match race was just awesome. I am really proud of the whole team and what we have achieved in such a short time.”
Third overall on the leaderboard with 36 points is Great Britain helmed by Dylan Fletcher. The British team under the command of Olympian Chris Draper was quick off the start and showed moments of promise but admitted they would be studying the data to ensure they were faster and more polished next time.
Image credit: sail-world.com