Watch: Japanese boat boards Americans in SailGP
While Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain SailGP Team was crowned winners of the opening event of SailGP Season 2, the drama of the day was centred around a spectacular crash between the F50s sporting the smaller 18-meter wing for the first time in the building breeze.
Newcomer to the fleet Jimmy Spithill, at the helm of the U.S. team, had a nerve-wracking collision with Nathan Outteridge’s Japan team in the first race of the day – that took both boats out for the remainder of the racing and also saw Spithill’s F50 on its side on the Great Sound shortly after the collision.
Later in the day, the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix was decided in a winner-takes-all final podium race that saw Ainslie come out on top from Tom Slingsby’s Australia team and Billy Besson of France.
Up until that point, reigning champions Australia had been the dominant team, winning four of the five races and entered the final race as strong favourites. However, Ainslie and co sailed past the Australians in the final podium race to win by just four seconds and, with it, the first event of the season, claiming his place at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was a cracking race. It was awesome,” says Ainslie. “It’s what we want to do it for; go against the top sailors in the world in conditions like this – it was perfect. It was a huge credit to the team, we really struggled yesterday, but we analysed what went wrong and today was a much better day and I am delighted with the result, it’s a great way to start the season.”
“I think it just showed again what a fabulous venue Bermuda is to run international sailing competitions and for a SailGP event, it is absolutely perfect,” says SailGP CEO, Sir Russell Coutts. “We missed the crowds due to the current pandemic but everyone saw what the racing was like and what a stunning backdrop Bermuda is and that’s the main thing. I couldn’t be more thrilled with Bermuda and we certainly want to come back for many years to come.”