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Tom Slingsby's Australian SailGP team push the British to the limit in Bermuda Sail Grand Prix

by Olivia Hogan 26 Apr 2021 02:01 PDT 24-25 April 2021
A dramatic podium race in the Bermuda SailGP presented by Hamilton Princess © Simon Bruty for SailGP

The final battle between Australia's Tom Slingbsy, Great Britain's Ben Ainslie and France's Billy Besson, erupted on the Great Sound as the top teams went head-to-head in the final race at the SailGP Season 2 opener.

Despite delivering a dominant first and second day of racing, which saw Australia win four out of the five fleet races, Slingsby wasn't unable to run down Ben Ainslie, who was able to just snatch the win to take the title of Bermuda Champions.

The Australian's started strong, crossing the start line first at flying speeds of almost 50 knots, but it quickly became a close drag race between the Aussies and the British as the French fell behind on the course. Ainslie was able to secure an early lead in the match race, with Slingby's squad struggling to make up the distance due to some technical issues with their F50.

Slingsby said "I had so much fun racing this weekend, but I can't help but be a little frustrated and disappointed by the result. I'm proud of the way our team performed. I think we sailed amazingly and it just didn't go our way this time. That's the way it is with this format of racing, you need to win that final race."

Reflecting on what cost the Aussies the win, Slingsby said, "We had a few boat malfunctions in the last race, but Ben was ahead of us when these happened. We were right on his tail and then had some issues with our board going down. I'm not going to say it's the reason he beat us as he was in the lead, but it let him get that additional distance on us which helped him win the race."

"Hat's off to the Brits, they sailed amazingly when it counted, but I feel like our team sailed amazingly and consistently the whole way through."

The day was not without its drama on the course, with the high winds causing nail biting moments and close calls for other teams. Nathan Outteridge's Japanese team had a head on collision with Jimmy Spithill's USA side during the first fleet race, which saw both teams retire from racing. But the drama didn't end there.

It was mere minutes after the collision when the huge winds caused Spithill's USA F50 to capsize on the Great Sound, but luckily no crew were injured in either incidents.

Even with the loss, the Australians are still sitting at the top end of the championship leaderboard as they embark on their next leg in Taranto (Italy) in June.

"We've got a lot of confidence heading into the next event in Taranto. We've proven over the past couple of days that when we are on we are hard to beat and are a real contender in this fleet of the best athletes in the world. It's a really good confidence booster for us. The other teams need to prove to the world and to themselves that they can beat us on our day as well", said Slingsby.

Points will be collated across each SailGP event, including Taranto, Plymouth (U.K.), Aarhus (Denmark), Cadiz (France), Christchurch (NZL) and San Francisco where the champion will be crowned and win the $1m championship prize.

SailGP also enters this season with a purpose-led agenda at its heart - racing for a better future, championing a world powered by nature. SailGP is setting a new standard as the first climate positive sports property, and through it's Race For The Future initiative aims to accelerate the transition to clean energy.

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