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Spain beat top dogs in thrilling Bermuda SailGP final

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Viva España: Spain SailGP Team, helmed by Diego Botín, far left, celebrate on board their F50 catamaran after winning the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix yesterday (Photograph by Felix Diemer/SailGP)

The Europeans beat the Antipodeans as the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix weekend reached a thrilling conclusion off Morgan’s Point.

After wrestling the advantage from the Australia and New Zealand teams at the start of the three-boat final, it was Diego Botín and his Spanish crew who crossed the line first in the final to spark scenes of wild celebration.

It was Team Spain’s second victory in Season Four of SailGP after their triumph in Los Angeles, but this was all the more remarkable given they squeaked into the final on countback after finishing tied on points with Canada at the end of the five-race qualifying series.

Botín revealed that most of the crew thought they had missed out on the final.

“We made a big mistake at the last mark in the final qualifying race and we almost lost it there,” the Spain driver said.

“Many of us thought we had lost it, but this was a really close SailGP.”

How they finished in Bermuda

Starting well had been the key to victory in almost all of the Bermuda races and an emotional Botín made his final-winning move before the race had officially started.

“The key part was the start and we kept it clean from there,” Botín said. “It’s a very emotional day for us as we really wanted to make the final, but coming out with a win is really amazing.”

Team Spain strategist Nicole Van der Velden was delighted to have taken on the big guns and come out on top.

“It was amazing to have a battle with the Aussies and the Kiwis, who are clearly the top teams, and to be able to fight with them hand-to-hand and come out on top is an amazing feeling,” she said.

New Zealand have put in their best performances when it matters most, winning the last fleet race and finishing second in the final. Driver Peter Burling was disappointed with their inconsistency through the weekend but was delighted to finish on a high note and to extend his lead in the overall SailGP championship.

Team Spain, right, get the jump on New Zealand, left, and Australia (Photograph courtesy of SailGP

“I wouldn’t say consistency was our forte this weekend but it was great to pull out a couple of decent results at the end, getting a win to make it through to the final,” Burling said.

“We ended up a little bit deep in the final and a little compromised by attacking the Aussies at the start, which handed it to the Spanish, but they sailed an awesome race.”

It was a disappointing second day in lighter wind conditions for the Australian team, who had dominated on the opening day, winning twice and finishing third. They finished eighth and second in the last two qualifying races before a poor start cost them any hope of being involved in the finish in the final.

Overall SailGP championship standings

“We didn’t have a great start,” said driver Tom Slingsby.

“We didn’t do a good last tack into the line unfortunately and we just couldn’t build speed. It was a bit frustrating but we have to congratulate Spain. It’s nice to get a good result here. We won the fleet racing before obviously a frustrating final, but we’re looking forward to the next event now.”

The most disappointed driver on the day was Canada’s Phil Robertson, whose boat failed to make the final despite finishing second in three of the five qualifying races before throwing away their hopes when last in the final fleet contest.

“We’re pretty disappointed and it was a really average race on our part,” Robertson said.

“We had plenty of opportunities and sailed ourselves back into it and then sailed ourselves back out of it on the last downwind. It was pretty amateur, to be honest.

“It is difficult and getting it all right is a pretty complex thing to do. We just didn’t execute that start and got hooked by the Danish at the end. When you’re tenth around Mark 1, it’s pretty tough to get back from.”

Nathan Outteridge steered his Switzerland team to victory in the first race and summed up the feeling of much of the fleet about their time on the island.

“Honestly, how good’s Bermuda?” he said.

“It’s a while since we’ve been here and I know everybody’s going to be sad to get on planes and go home tomorrow.”

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Published May 06, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 06, 2024 at 9:32 pm)

Spain beat top dogs in thrilling Bermuda SailGP final

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