A ‘rollercoaster weekend’ for Emirates GBR and new Driver Giles Scott

Hannah Mills said the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix was a “rollercoaster weekend” for the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team.

Mills, the team’s Strategist, said it was a difficult start to the event for Emirates GBR, but the crew “really stepped up” on the second day of racing. After struggling to secure good starts on Saturday, Emirates GBR improved on day two and finished the event in seventh place, while home team Australia was victorious, claiming their first event win of Season 4.

Giles Scott said the Sydney event “felt like a nice building block” for Emirates GBR ahead of the next SailGP Event in Christchurch in March. Scott, who took over the Driver position from Sir Ben Ainslie last month, said the team managed to get back in the fight on the second day of racing.

As the sun beamed down on Sydney Harbour, crowds gathered on Shark Island to watch the world’s best sailors battle it out in their one-design foiling F50 race boats. After a light wind season to date, fans finally got to witness the thrilling action SailGP is famed for at the Sydney event, with close racing, near-capsizes and boat speeds of up to 80kmh/h. The heavier conditions meant Emirates GBR’s new Driver Giles Scott was in at the deep end, after practice racing was cancelled on Friday, which gave him little time to get to grips with the F50 in foiling conditions.

On race day one, Emirates GBR struggled to get off the start line in good shape in the three fleet races, which led to them starting day two in eighth place. In race four of the event, new team Germany had an excellent start along with the Swiss team who led the fleet across the line. It was a drag race to mark one, with Emirates GBR getting caught up in the middle of the pack. The wind was lighter than Saturday, which made for extremely close racing, but Erik Heil’s Germany put on an impressive display to lead the fleet across the finish line, making a great comeback after the team’s near capsize a day prior. New Zealand came in second followed by Switzerland in third. Emirates GBR maintained a mid-fleet position throughout and finished in sixth place.

In race five, Switzerland and Spain received early start penalties while Quentin Delapierre’s France timed the start perfectly and dominated the last fleet race of the day. Emirates GBR found themselves in the middle of the pack, flip-flopping with ROCKWOOL Denmark between fourth and fifth place. France took the win, with Canada and Taylor Canfield’s USA in second and third, Denmark in fourth and Emirates GBR in fifth.

Emirates GBR Driver Scott said: “We certainly felt like we were in the fight today, which made a change from yesterday.

“We were in the pack in both races and it was quite nice to know we are capable of hanging out there. With me coming into the Driver role, I’ve got to get up to speed quickly and the crew have got to adjust to my way of sailing – but hopefully we are on a steep learning curve. We’ve still got a bit to go, but there are a lot of positives to take from today. This event feels like a nice building block ahead of Christchurch next month, hopefully our trajectory can be fast and steep.”

Despite bagging the win in race five, it wasn’t enough for the French team to make it into the three-boat event final. Tom Sligsby’s home team, ROCKWOOL Denmark and New Zealand took the three spots in the final and there was absolute chaos at the start line as Australia attempted to push out the Danes before an extremely close call between New Zealand and Australia. Despite the Kiwi’s and Denmark putting up a good fight, Australia secured the home event win.

Emirates GBR Strategist Hannah Mills said: “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a weekend. Practice racing was cancelled on Friday which for us was a pretty big deal with it only being Giles’ second event. His first event was Abu Dhabi which was really light winds, so going straight into racing here in Sydney on Saturday in tricky conditions – it was a really hard day.

“Essentially we are a new team and this is a huge learning curve for us, but the step up we made today was really amazing, so I’m excited looking ahead to Christchurch and the rest of the season.”

A delayed broadcast of race day two will be available for UK viewers on ITV4 at 00:55 GMT on 26 February. A highlights show will be broadcast on ITV4 at 11:35 on Saturday 2 March. SailGP travels to Christchurch next, where racing will take place on 23 and 24 March.

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