Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain SailGP Team threw down the first major challenge to defending champion Tom Slingsby’s Australia for Series 3 supremacy, as it claimed two of the three races on day one of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess.
However a penalty in the second race for Great Britain against Canada only sees it in second place on the event leaderboard, as a consistent Canada claimed day one honors on its first ever day of SailGP racing, as local fans packed the shoreline and turned out in force on the water.
It was a moment of immense satisfaction for Phil Robertson, driving his third different team in as many seasons. A second in the day’s first race for the Canada team, followed by a race win, made it a stunning debut for the new franchise. Despite only one top three finish, the Australia SailGP Team still ended the day in third place as the rest of the field struggled for consistency.
Robertson said: “The team’s excited but the challenge for us is to try and keep expectations low because the conditions are ideal for any of these boats so anything can happen tomorrow. But ultimately you have to be extremely happy with the day we had. In tight situations we always came out on top and did some great things on the racecourse.”
Ainslie finds himself in a fantastic position to claim the season opening event after a dominant day of racing from the four-time Olympic gold medallist.
Ainslie said: “It’s not really a surprise to see the previous top teams like Australia down the back because the racing is so tight and to be honest the standard is so high. We are all top teams now, there’s going to be lots of ups and downs and consistency is going to win out and that’s what we are vying for.”
Two-time SailGP Champion Slingsby warmed into the day of racing, finally finding his way onto the podium in the day’s last race after some poor starts across all three races.
Slingsby said: “I’m really impressed with Phil today, it’s going to be exciting to see what he can do, he’s got a new team, it’s privately funded, the owner loves him and he’s under no pressure. The standard has gone up a level and whoever can find some consistency in this field will do extremely well.”
France sits just outside the top three and stands a great chance of making the event final tomorrow after an excellent performance by Quentin Delapierre in the third race of the day to finish second. While showing some promise in the starts, Spain experienced a day to forget on the water, finishing day one in eighth place, although it did make history with Paula Barcelo making the first appearance of a female athlete in the grinder position in a full six-person crew configuration.
Last year’s grand finalist, the U.S. SailGP Team has work to do to make the final three tomorrow after a tough day on the water, sitting five points outside third place in fifth. The other new team in the fleet, Switzerland, managed two sixth place finishes on its debut on a tough day on the Great Sound for the league’s youngest driver Sébastien Schneiter.
BERMUDA SAIL GRAND PRIX PRESENTED BY HAMILTON PRINCESS // DAY ONE STANDINGS
1 // Canada // 25 points
2 // Great Britain // 23 points
3 // Australia // 21 points
4 // France // 20 points
5 // United States // 16 points
6 // Denmark // 15 points
7 // New Zealand // 15 points
8 // Spain // 14 points
9 // Switzerland // 13 points