Slingsby steers Aussies into lead in SailGP Spanish regatta
CADIZ, Spain (AP) — Tom Slingsby skippered Team Australia to finishes of second, fourth and second on Saturday to take the lead after the first day of the Spain Sail Grand Prix.
Slingsby, looking to bounce back from a last-place finish in Saint-Tropez, took a 19-18 lead over Jimmy Spithill’s Team USA, with Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark SailGP Team another four points back. The rest of the field is Great Britain, Spain, Japan, New Zealand and France.
The final two races will be Sunday, with the top three teams advancing to the podium race.
The Aussies narrowly lost to Sir Ben Ainslie’s British team in the opening race. Spain won the second race in front of its home crowd, and the United States won the third race
“To sum up today’s racing, it was a happy one to get through,” said Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and a former America’s Cup champion who steered the Aussies to the inaugural championship and $1 million, winner-take-all prize in 2019. “It’s like a minefield out there. We said we don’t want a shocker, it’s a real ‘danger day.’ We knew it was going to be light breeze conditions and then we’ve got heavier breeze tomorrow.”
“To come away with three consistent results, we’re stoked,” Slingsby said. “Doesn’t really matter that we’re sitting on top of the leaderboard, we just didn’t want to have a bad result and yeah, we’re happy.”
Saturday was the first time women sailed on each crew as part of the Women’s Pathway Program, taking on a variety of roles on the foiling 50-foot catamarans, including grinding, tactics and communications.
Also Saturday, King Felipe VI visited Spain’s base before donning sailing gear for a spin on the F50 catamaran.
“For us it’s probably one of the most thrilling moments in our careers as athletes, winning our first race at a SailGP event and doing that in front of the home crowd,” Spanish wing trimmer Florian Trittel said. “It’s definitely been something amazing and a day I will never forget.”