Video: Ainslie’s spectacular capsize on final day of Spain Sail Grand Prix
Over 11,000 fans witnessed the Australians claim victory after dramatic podium race with powerhouse rivals The US and Great Britain.
The Spanish home team went from hero to zero when a capsize ahead of the final day of racing in Cádiz, Andalusia, took the Spanish team out of contention for the Spain Sail Grand Prix. However, it wasn’t the only team to suffer a devastating blow. Ben Ainslie’s team also turned-over in the choppy waters of the Bay of Cádiz in the final podium race, leaving Tom Slingsby’s Australian team to take the victory.
After an impressive opening day, winning its first ever SailGP race in front of thousands of cheering fans lining the streets and Bay of Cádiz, Phil Robertson’s Spanish team was focused on day two. But intense conditions – racing at the top end of the window for the 24m wingsail – saw the team’s dreams shattered before the F50 could get onto the racecourse.
Eighty minutes before the start of the first race, the Spanish team capsized as it headed to the race area. Everyone was accounted for straight away but, on righting the boat, it was clear that the damage sustained to the wingsail would mean that the team would be heading back to the dock early.
“We’ve been in two finals and we feel like we can actually win an event now,” says Robertson. “We came into today with the whole support of the country behind us and the fans here in Cádiz. We thought we could do some good stuff, we quite enjoyed the windy conditions and it all went a bit pear shaped from the get-go. It’s going to be a tough road from here for us but we are competitive, so we are just going to have to do our best.”
After two intense races on the final day, it was the powerhouses of Australia, Great Britain and Jimmy Spithill’s US team that faced-off in the final. Ainslie timed the start to perfection, and the three F50s flew off the line at ridiculous speeds with the Brits in front. However, at the first turning mark, the Brits followed the same fate as the Spanish and capsized the boat following a serious nose-dive. The spectacular capsize inevitably ended the Brits quest for top spot, leaving the Aussies to run away with the win.
“It’s really disappointing for the team. Before that we had a great day, and really enjoyed sailing in the breeze. So I am just frustrated with the overall final race,” says Ainslie.
“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. Tough one for the team but we take it on the chin and hope to come back stronger.”
The F50 action returns to Sydney, Australia on December 17-18 for the penultimate event before the Race to San Francisco, set for March 2022.