The P&O Marinas Dubai SailGP went to the next level in Dubai, with the three boat final providing heart stopping action, and a result undeterminable until the final maneouvre.
It was the Australians who were a nose in front at the end, and went on to win the first SailGP event in the Middle East.
Great Britain were the pace setters who showed the value of consistency, dominating the event leaderboard ten points clear of second place France, securing their place in the Final Race with a race to spare. The third spot was hotly contested, with only two points separating third to sixth place.
Australia showed their determination and resilience to move from eighth place at the end of day one to edge out New Zealand for the last spot in the final – the two finishing on equal points with the place decided by the positions in the final Fleet Race.
It was a tough day for the Kiwis after their first place in Race 5. In Races 6 and 7 they were victims of the tight pre-starts and mark roundings, finding themselves penalised and forced back in the fleet. They showed the immense skill they have on board to fight their way back each time, but in the end it was the four penalty points for contact with Switzerland in the pre-start of Race 6 that cost them a place in the final.
See full results for the fleet races here.
The final was one of the tightest, most exciting races in SailGP to date. The teams threw everything at it, with the final result not decided until the last mark. Australia put themselves on the back foot following a penalty at the start for being early.
France led early and extended on Great Britain, and looked unbeatable at times.
At the first top gate Great Britain split, after a charging Australia had them splash down off the foils heading upwind. Quentin Delapierre’s French team extended downwind, only to be met by a patchy final upwind.
Great Britain split for the final upwind, which had not paid all day, and at the final top mark had worked their way back into the lead of the race as the three boats condensed and rounded together.
Australia were hot on the heels of the Great Britain team, as France fell off their foils and back to third.
It was tight down to the final mark, with Great Britain controlling Australia. Tom Slingsby went for a final hail mary, gybing early to attempt to get inside Ben Ainslie’s team. As they went to cover into the final mark, Great Britain splashed down off the foils, lacking the power to lock down their foil and Australia sailed through to take the win.
In an added blow France snuck past and finished second, and Great Britain limped home, unable to regain momentum on their foils for the finish.
More from the next event in Singapore in January 2023.