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Canada the surprise package on first day of SailGP Season 3

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Ruling the waves: SailGP newcomers Canada enjoyed an impressive opening day to top the standings heading into the day two of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix (Photograph by Felix Diemer/SailGP)
Surprise package: Canada top the leaderboard after the first day of racing of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix (Photograph by Bob Martin for SailGP)
Ruling the waves: SailGP newcomers Canada enjoyed an impressive opening day to top the leaderbaord heading into the day two (Photograph by Ricardo Pinto for SailGP)
Flying high: Action from the first day of racing of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix (Photograph courtesy of SailGP)
Flying high: Action from the first day of racing of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix (Photograph courtesy of SailGP)
Smooth sailing: Sir Ben Ainslie and his Great Britain team find themselves in second place heading into the the second day of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix (Photograph courtesy of SailGP)

Phil Robertson and his Canada team-mates punched well above their weight to grasp early control of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in the Great Sound today.

The global league newcomers were the most consistent of the nine teams as they posted a 2-1-5 record in the three races contested in shifty breezes to top the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the SailGP Season 3 opener.

“I think we are punching well above expectations at the moment of the team, the fans and everyone else,” Robertson told The Royal Gazette. “And that’s something we are going to take a rain check on as well and realise that we do have a lot more to learn in these boats.

“It’s day one and very early days but really, really positive start. We’re thrilled with how it went today but we’ll take as much learning we can out of it as well.”

Canada hold a two-point advantage over defending champions Great Britain.

“It’s a bit of a weird one; I probably didn’t expect that,” Robertson added. “But it’s a good place to be and again we’re not focused too much on the results whether we’re first, fifth or last.

“Right now we’ll be happy with the amount of learning we did today and that will be our attitude continuing forward.”

The Canadians executed clean starts and did an excellent job connecting the dots around the course to keep clean air on their wing and their F50 up on the foils.

“The big key was getting off the line in really good shape and the start was everything in that kind of racecourse,” Robertson said. ”We managed to execute that quite well and got some fantastic results.

“Tricky conditions but it was a beautiful Bermuda day, so we could not ask for anything more. The flat water here in the beautiful Great Sound is the ideal racecourse, so we love being here and love racing here.

“I was saying before the race we did not really know what was going on out there, so we just had to improvise in every moment.

“We were just improvising with what came at us and I think we did a good job and Georgia [Lewin-La France] on the back of our boat was making some great calls.”

Britain won two of the three races to get their regatta title defence off to a good start.

Sir Ben Ainslie’s team led from start to finish on the way to victory in the opening race but lost momentum with a disappointing eighth-place finish in the second as tactical errors took their toll.

However, the British came roaring back to win the third fleet race after an intense battle with France to end the day on a solid note.

“It was a tricky day out there; the wind was up and down and shifting around a lot,” Ainslie said. “But the team did a good job. We had a couple of wins and then a very difficult middle race, where we were up the front and then made a few big errors and sailed ourselves to the back of the fleet, which is always frustrating. But it was good to regroup and come back with a win in the final race.”

In third are Australia, who struggled throughout the day after getting off to poor starts and on the wrong side of the wind shifts.

“I’m not sure how we are in third after that day,” Tom Slingsby, the helmsman, said. “Our starts were terrible and a lot of mistakes the first lap. “But fortunately they did two-lap races and we had a chance to get back into it.

“Near the finish of each race, it seemed like there were a lot of penalties and boats stopping at that bottom mark and we were able to stay out of the trouble and sail around and pick up a couple of boats each time.

“Not a great day, but we’re actually really happy inside the team to end up with decent points after a day like that.”

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

Racing begins at 2pm.

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Published May 14, 2022 at 8:39 pm (Updated May 15, 2022 at 1:32 pm)

Canada the surprise package on first day of SailGP Season 3

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