Day one of the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix brought the action on San Francisco Bay. Japan and Australia share the top of the results, with both teams showing they want momentum going into Sunday’s final. Jimmy Spithill and USA SailGP Team played it more conservatively, opting to “protect the asset”. They sit in seventh place overall with a 5, 7, 5 today, and with it all to do tomorrow.
It was Great Britain extending their dominance from yesterday’s practice in Race One, with a decisive win. Coming in fourth to the top mark, Great Britain opted for the right side of the course and sailed through to be leading at the bottom. Taking best average speed, highest ride height, and shortest distance sailed, Sir Ben Ainslie and Great Britain were clinical to the finish.
Australia edged out New Zealand for second and third place, after overtaking when the Kiwis dropped off their foils as they pushed to the boundary. Japan were the big loser of Race One dropping back to fourth after leading from the start to the first mark.
The second race of the day saw Japan best off the line again, but crash off their foils at the speed mark. That let Australia and a fast-starting France through at a messy speed mark. The pressure on the left side of the course lightened, which combined with the turning tide, left those favouring that side at a disadvantage.
The Danish team sailed a well-managed race, thanks to Driver Nicolai Sehested’s cool head, to take a deserving win. Japan took second, keeping out of the action and consolidating on their good start.
Further back there was drama with Spain splashing down and overlaying the final mark, then squeezing the fast-approaching Australia and earning a mark room penalty. That secured the Spanish team third place, with Australia in fourth after their penalty.
The final race saw high speed and tactics playing out as Japan stretched out and dominated. First-time driver Jordi Xammar for Spain steered his team into second place, building on their brilliant tactics in Race 2. Australia came in third to round out a consistent day for them leading into the final race on Sunday.
The top four boats reached speeds well above 90km/h as they came across the finish line, giving the San Francisco crowds packing the grandstands a thrilling finish to the day.
There are two more races of the Mubadala United States Sail Gran Prix to come, which will be followed by the season Final with $1 million on the line in a three-way winner takes all race.
Barring an incident resulting in penalties or damage, it is Australia, United States and Japan who will be racing for the title. Conditions are predicted to be far from what we are used to seeing on San Francisco Bay, with a southerly breeze of 16 knots or more building over the afternoon. With gusts possible of 25 knots or more, the action is sure to be lively as Tom Slingsby, Jimmy Spithill and Nathan Outteridge vie for the top prize.
See what the teams had to say at the end of Day One:
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