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Australia falls prey to Japan in final day of New York SailGP

by Australia SailGP Team 22 Jun 20:40 PDT 21-22 June, 2019
Japan SailGP Team skippered by Nathan Outteridge and Australia SailGP Team skippered by Tom Slingsby racing in the Match Race with a media helicopter behind. Race Day 2 Event 3 Season 1 SailGP event in New York City, New York, United States. 22 June . © Bob Martin for SailGP

The shoreline of Manhattan's lower Hudson River was ignited with energy as fans watched Japan SailGP Team overtake Australia to claim the title of inaugural New York SailGP. This marks the first, second place finish for the Australia SailGP Team and a first-ever event win for the Japanese.

Having won previously in both Sydney and San Francisco, Australia SailGP Team came into the event with measured confidence, knowing New York City can be extremely difficult due to unstable breeze patterns off the iconic skyline. Over the course of two challenging days, with winds gusting anywhere from 30 kn (55 kph) back down to a sluggish 5 kn (~3 kph) the team lost the battle to not only Japan SailGP Team, but to mother nature's provisions.

Helm and CEO, Tom Slingsby, came back to shore after Day 1 racing relieved and satisfied with his overall team's performance. Looking into Day 2, he asserted, "We've got a game plan. Make sure we make it into the match race. Two semiconservative fleet races and then foot to the floor in a match race. For us, we are confident that if we sail well we will beat Nathan and Team Japan. Must keep our eye on Team China, but make sure we beat them and get into that final spot."

Australia SailGP Team just could not find their feeling in New York City. The conditions on Day 2 were even more unpredictable, with pressure across the course ranging from 9 - 18 kn (16-33 kph), coming across the Jersey cityscape. Though the team used both Race 4 and 5 to feel their way through the conditions taking a second and third, behind Japan and USA respectively, the lads still struggled particurlarly in the match race. Collectively they tried to look for the breeze, but gains were just not made when they needed them the most in the finals. "All we cared about was getting into the match race," notes wing trimmer, Kyle Langford

"Nathan took what we felt was the unfavorable entry, so we managed to get across him and have an advantage in the pre-start, but we fouled him, so even though we won the start, we had to get behind him. From that point onwards we were just chasing him around. Then on the third leg, there was a period of no wind and he just disappeared, and that really was it — race over."

It was truly a banner day for fellow Australian Olympian, Nathan Outteridge's Team Japan who claimed, a first, second, and then a match race win with absolute speed and consistency. Though only one point separated the two capable teams going into Day 2, it was clear that Japan SailGP Team had chosen the favorable sides time and again. The Japanese have clearly been gunning for the Aussies since Sydney, and even though Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby are mates onshore, they are clearly competitors on-water.

"We were right behind the Aussies in Sydney, then closed the gap in San Francisco, and now we're ahead of them. I think we're on the right path, and now just can't wait for the rest of them!" grins Outteridge. The two teams now currently sit just one point from each other in the SailGP 2019 Current Season 1 Leaderboard, with Japan at 140 points, and Australia at 139 points.

Though the Australia SailGP Team holds their heads a little lower after a trying New York SailGP, they are walking away congratulating fellow competitors and looking inward at what the Aussies can do as a united front to get back into their preferred podium position.

"I think we just need to improve as a team better. Spend the time to take the local lessons and apply them to an overall formula. We know we can sail fast, we know we can pick wind, we just need to put that all together when it counts." — Tom Slingsby.

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