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‛I couldn’t be happier,’ says dominant Tom Slingsby

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Tom Slingsby, the Australia helmsman, hailed his team’s dominance during the opening day of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in the Great Sound yesterday.

Three from three: Australia, helmed by Tom Slingsby during a dominant opening day in the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess (Photograph by Thomas Lovelock/SailGP)

The champions came out swinging as they recorded a sweep of victories in all three races contested in 26 knot breezes, with gusts to 35, in the SailGP Season 2 opener to begin their title defence on the front foot.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Slingsby said. ”For me it wasn’t about the results, it was about how well we sailed together. Everyone did an amazing job.

“We have always felt we have an edge in windier conditions and [Friday] showed that. It’s nice to not have the pressure of performing in those opening races now and we can look forward to tomorrow.”

The champions nailed their starts and played the shifts superbly to take the shortest route around the racecourse and maintain boat speed.

“I think by getting good starts we were able to stay out of the pack,” Slingsby added.

“For sure we felt in sync with the shifts. A couple of times we didn’t boundary tack and we just thought we were on shift and we tacked early and tried to paste together a few wind shifts. And then I think we were just clean; we didn’t make too many errors.

“We had a couple of bad tacks here and there but we recovered from them really quickly so really good job by the team.”

The team’s only real blemish was a poor gybe early in the opening race that cost them the lead and led to a penalty after they strayed off course.

However, they managed to claw their way back from fourth and overtake France on the penultimate leg of the race and hold on to secure the win, which set the tone for the remaining races.

The Australians top the leaderboard heading into tomorrow’s second and final day of the regatta, followed by the French and Japan, who are tied with 23 points each.

Only three points separate fourth-placed United States from Great Britain in sixth.

The British, led by Olympic great Sir Ben Ainslie, struggled in the opening two races and were then pipped by Slingsby’s team coming down the home stretch in the last race.

“It was a tough day, the first two races in particular,” Ainslie said.

“The final race we had the lead after a good start but couldn’t handle the boat well enough and the Aussies got past us and we ended up second, so I am pretty frustrated with that. But we have got to learn from it and come back better.

“It’s going to be tough to make the podium race tomorrow from here. So we are going to have to fight for some good finishes and probably need to win at least one race if we are going to have a sniff at getting into the top three. But that will be our goal.”

SailGP debutants New Zealand found the going tough in their first race appearance in the global championship.

“Today was a real baptism of fire for us,” Peter Burling, the helmsman, said. “We struggled to keep the boat under control. It felt like we had some really good points in all of the races, but we couldn’t quite pull one race together.”

The Kiwis are bottom of the eight-team standings with a best showing of sixth.

“It’s only the second time sailing our boat and the first time in that breeze,” Burling added. “There is something always hard about learning while racing at an event but that’s what we are going to have to do.”

Two more fleet races are scheduled for tomorrow, with the top three teams advancing to the winners-take-all podium race.

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Published April 24, 2021 at 6:16 pm (Updated April 24, 2021 at 6:57 pm)

‛I couldn’t be happier,’ says dominant Tom Slingsby

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