Cádiz, Spain – The final day at the Spain Sail Grand Prix delivered a dramatic conclusion as winds gusting to over 20 knots wiped out two teams while Tom Slingsby’s Aussie team road the rails best to claim their third victory of season two.
Eighty minutes before the start of the first race, the Spanish team capsized as they headed to the race area, avoiding injury but incurring major damage to their wing, leaving them on the sidelines for the final two qualifying races, won by New Zealand and Australia.
Slingsby was joined by Great Britain and USA for the winner-take-all final, and after British helm Ben Ainslie timed the start to perfection, the Brits followed the same fate as the Spanish and capsized the boat following a serious nose-dive on the opening reach leg.
It was quick reaction by Slingsby to avoid collision, keeping their F50 on the wheels and into the lead, while the USA needed more dramatic action to avert disaster.
“As we all came off the start line and saw Ben do a huge nose dive, we bowed out to avoid them, which caused us to crash,” explained USA driver Jimmy Spithill. “It triggered our emergency stop systems, effectively shutting the boat down. While we restarted the systems, Tom was already far down the line.
“But at the end of the day, no one will care who won the earlier regattas, so this is another great result. All we have to do is qualify for the final and then win in San Francisco.”
Regardless, Ainslie would have liked to have that one back. “Before that we had a great day, and really enjoyed sailing in the breeze. So I am just frustrated with the overall final race.
“It’s really hard to explain to people just how tough the F50s are to sail. You can see we’ve got great sailors on our team, we had a great start, we got into the lead. Unless you’re absolutely perfect with your trim and balance of the boat, you can just lose control like we did.”
With each team now expanded to six crew, the Women’s Pathway Program athletes raced on the F50s for the first time ever in Cádiz, providing the helm with additional input and assistance as they gained experience amid competition.
“I was trying to help as much as possible by feeding in information but I was also aware not to cause a sensory overload,” said Nina Curtis on the Aussie team. “I am so stoked for not only myself but also all the other female athletes that were racing onboard this weekend. It is a pretty historic moment.”
The victory in Spain lifts Australia from third to the top of the season leaderboard while the U.S. team retains its second place overall but just one point from the Aussies. Nathan Outteridge’s Japan team is tied on points with the U.S. – after dropping from the top spot following a fourth place finish – and Ainslie’s Brits are just off the podium in fourth place.
The Spain Sail Grand Prix completes the European leg of SailGP Season 2 with the circuit moving now to Sydney, Australia – home of Slingsby’s reigning champions – on December 17-18 for the penultimate event before the Race to San Francisco, set for March 2022.
Final Results (Team, Helm)
1. Australia, Tom Slingsby
2. United States, Jimmy Spithill
3. Great Britain, Ben Ainslie
4. Japan, Nathan Outteridge
5. New Zealand, Peter Burling
6. Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
7. Spain, Phil Robertson
8. France, Quentin Delapierre
1. Australia, 45 pts
2. United States, 44 pts
3. Japan, 44 pts
4. Great Britain, 40 pts
5. New Zealand, 36 pts
6. Spain, 35 pts
7. Denmark, 33 pts
8. France, 31 pts
Format for SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three races on each day, totaling six races at each event.
• The opening five fleet races involve every team.
• The final match race pits the three highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.
SailGP Season 2 Schedule*
April 24-25, 2021 – Bermuda Grand Prix
June 5-6, 2021 – Italy Grand Prix – Taranto
July 17-18, 2021 – Great Britain Grand Prix – Plymouth
August 20-21, 2021 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Grand Prix – Aarhus
September 11-12, 2021 – France Grand Prix – Saint-Tropez
October 9-10, 2021 – Spain Grand Prix – Andalusia
December 17-18, 2021 – Australia Grand Prix – Sydney
January 29-30, 2022 – New Zealand Grand Prix – Christchurch (CANCELLED)
March 26-27, 2022 – United States Grand Prix – San Francisco (Season 2 Grand Final)
*Subject to change
2021-22 Teams, Helm
Australia, Tom Slingsby
Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
France, Quentin Delapierre
Great Britain, Ben Ainslie (alternate – Paul Goodison)
Japan, Nathan Outteridge
New Zealand, Peter Burling (alternate – Arnaud Psarofaghis)
Spain, Jordi Xammar (alternate – Phil Robertson)
United States, Jimmy Spithill
Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe. Rival national teams compete in identical F50 catamarans with the season culminating with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.