Hundreds gathered on and around the Great Sound once again this afternoon to watch the world’s top sailors compete to win the opening stage of SailGP’s third season, held in Bermuda.
Newcomers Canada, led by Phil Robertson, topped the leaderboard from yesterday’s races, earning 25 points, closely followed by Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain team, with 23 points and
defending champions from Seasons 1 and 2 closely trailing at third, with 21 points.
The first race of the afternoon saw two-time America’s Cup winning helmsman Peter Burling lead his New Zealand team to their first win of the season, crossing the finish line at 13:23.
Team Spain, led by Jordi Xammer, came in at a close second, finishing 17 seconds after New Zealand. Nicolai Sehested’s Danish team rounded out the top three in the first race of the afternoon, clocking in at an impressive 13:53. Team France received a black flag just as the race started, and were disqualified from competing in the rest of that race.
Season defenders Australia won the afternoon’s second race, coming in just under twelve minutes. Another America’s cup winning helmsman, Jimmy Spithill, led his US team into second place with a time of 12:22. The Danish finished third for the second time, flying through the
finish at 12:28.
Only the weekend’s top three highest-scoring teams competed in the third and final race of the day. The final race pinned Mr. Slingsby and Sir Ainslie against each other to rekindle one of the
most famous rivalries in modern sailing. Joining them was newbie team Canada.
The Canadians and Australians were neck-and-neck at the start of the race and remained pretty close to each other until around halfway through the third leg, when the Australians took a quite
sizable lead in the water. This huge lead continued to the finish line, where they finished with a time of 12:29. Team Britain came second at 12:41 and the Canadians finished at 12:52.
After some brief victory celebrations onboard their boat, the Australians came into the cross-island event village to be handed their prize by newly appointed Minister of Tourism the Honorable Vance Campbell, JP, MP, and for official photos.
“ I think [the Australian team’s constant wins] is a confidence thing,” Mr. Slingsby said after winning. “ Hopefully we can keep this up throughout the season . . . we’re off to a good start [to the season].”
Today’s victory, which was appropriately celebrated with several bottles of champagne, puts Team Australia one step closer to winning the $1 million grand prize at the end of the season.
The next stage will be held on June 18 and 19, in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
TNN Reporter Stefano Ausenda
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