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Japan lead Australia by one point on thrilling first day of racing at Sydney SailGP

by Michelle Fowler 15 Feb 02:50 PST 15-16 February 2019

Stage set for showdown on final day of racing tomorrow

Australia overcame a disappointing start to finish day one of the inaugural Sydney SailGP on 27 points, just one point behind leaders Japan, in a thrilling day of racing on Sydney Harbour.

Skipper Tom Slingsby turned a disappointing fourth place finish in race one - behind Japan, China and Great Britain - into commanding wins in race two and three, giving the thousands of fans on the water and Shark Island an emphatic finish to the day.

The rivalry between the six national teams was strong, but at the top of the fleet the fight between Australia and Japan looks set to thrill spectators tomorrow.

"We've shown that if we do things right and sail the way we know we can, it's not a question of whether Nathan Outteridge and Japan can beat us - if we sail well, we'll win the regatta and if not we'll lose," said Slingsby.

"When we sail by ourselves, it's pretty obvious to see we're fast, so we've just got to get out of the pack and get free and then we can use our speed to get away further. I don't know if the cameras were on me, but I was pretty angry after the first race - it wasn't the start we wanted."

"In the first race the Japan boat was gone and we were in the pack fighting, then the next two, we got a jump on them and held that lead."

"I couldn't believe how many people were out on the water, especially on a work day," Slingsby said of the home crowd turn out."

"It was unbelievable and after the last race we cruised along the exclusion zone and waved to a few people. It was great to see how many flags there were and the people cheering 'Aussie Aussie Aussie' - it was amazing."

Leading the pack, Japan skipper Nathan Outteridge said they were ready to take the challenge to Australia tomorrow for the final day of racing.

"The Australians are beatable - they beat us today because we made mistakes, and they'll probably say they lost that first race because they made mistakes," Outteridge said.

"If we both sail around the track without making mistakes, it'll be a tight race."

Great Britain, skippered by Dylan Fletcher, finished third overall on points.

Racing continues tomorrow for the final day of racing, which will feature two fleet races, followed by the match race between the two leading teams on points.

Sydney SailGP Standings after Day 1:

1st: Japan SailGP Team 28pts
2nd: Australia SailGP Team 27pts
3rd: Great Britain SailGP Team 22pts
4th: United States SailGP Team 20pts
5th: France SailGP Team 19pts
6th: China SailGP Team 19pts

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