SailGP returns to Sydney for season’s penultimate event
SailGP is returning to Sydney Harbour tomorrow for the Australia Sail Grand Prix (17-18 December), the penultimate event of the season.
With just one point separating the top three teams on the championship leaderboard, the season looks set for a thrilling finale.
Two-time America’s Cup winner Jimmy Spithill’s United States team and Olympic gold medallist Nathan Outteridge’s Japanese team sit just behind Tom Slingsby’s Australian team. The Great Britain team, headed up by Sir Ben Ainslie, sits in fourth place and will be looking for a good result in Sydney to make the season ending Grand Final in San Francisco. Slingsby made it clear at the pre-event press conference that he’s hoping Ainslie doesn’t feature in the winner-take-all $1million race in San Francisco next March.
Slingsby said: “If we had to choose, it would probably be for Ben to miss out as he’s very good at performing on the big stage. And, in San Francisco we are expecting windy conditions, so it would be good to have Nathan – who is a bit of a light air specialist – over Ben, who is a heavy air specialist.”
For his part Ainslie said he was trying to restore national sporting pride for Great Britain after some difficult recent results for the England cricket team on their Australian tour. The last time SailGP was on Sydney Harbour in 2020 Ainslie’s team claimed victory.
“We’ve been a little sore with the cricket results so far, so we’ve got to try and keep the British sporting challenge up, but it is going to be tough. As Tom said, there is great competition out on the Harbour, and the competition has just gone up massively,” he said.
“It’s just a wonderful place to sail – it’s got everything really. It’s a challenge because the wind is always shifting over the land, and the people really love their sport and their sailing. There aren’t that many places in the world where you have this kind of set-up. This city is right up there with my favourite sailing spots in the world.”
Slingsby’s Australia team comes into the race following victory in the last Sail Grand Prix in Cádiz and has topped the podium in three of the last four events. “It’s amazing to be back on Sydney Harbour, and I’m proud and really excited to show the Australian public how far SailGP has come,” said Slingsby. “We came here in a couple of our early events, and I’m really proud of where SailGP is now.
“Last time here we lost, and we didn’t sail well, and we got beaten on home waters. But look, I just want to perform well, I don’t worry about the other names on the boats, they are all just competition.”
The Sydney Sail Grand Prix will comprise two days of racing, with five fleet races followed by a podium race with the top three boats in the ultimate showdown to decide the winner on Saturday.
The teams are also fighting for SailGP’s second podium – that of the Impact League. The Impact League tracks the positive actions the teams make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing. At the end of the season there will be two podiums, with the winner of the Impact League crowned alongside the Season Champion and earning funding for its purpose partner, who supports and advises them throughout the season and is visible on the team’s livery. New Zealand currently leads the innovative Impact League ahead of Great Britain and Australia.
The Australia Sail Grand Prix will be the first opportunity for fans to experience SailGP Insights, the new data platform powered by Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. The new online dashboard is said to complement SailGP’s broadcast partners’ coverage, enabling fans to access in-depth information about the world’s most exciting racing on-water, while watching the live event feed.
SailGP Insights powered by Oracle Cloud can be accessed at SailGPInsights.com.
SailGP Season Championship leaderboard (after 7 events):
- Australia – 45 pts
- United States – 44 pts
- Japan – 44 pts
- Great Britain – 40 pts
- New Zealand – 36 pts
- Spain – 35 pts
- Denmark – 33 pts
- France – 31 pts