Britain beats Slingsby's Aussies in SailGP

·2-min read

Great Britain have held Team Australia at bay to win the opening regatta of SailGP's second season on a wild day in strong wind on Bermuda's Great Sound.

With the 50-foot foiling catamarans battling each other and the conditions, the Ben Ainslie-skippered British crew got the better of the Tom Slingsby-led Australians by four seconds in the winner-take-all final race, with France to a distant third.

This time the victory counts for Ainslie, a four-time Olympic gold medallist and former America's Cup winner.

Ainslie joined SailGP after its inaugural season of 2019 and dominated what had been the season two opener in Sydney in February 2020.

But that result was voided when the global league was shut down a few weeks later due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Better late than never," said Ainslie, who enjoyed a champagne shower with his crew shortly after the finish and then swigged from a bottle on the ride back to port.

"Cracking race. That was awesome.

"It's what we want to do, going up against these guys in conditions like this. It was just perfect."

It was a stunning reversal for Slingsby and his Australian crew, who had won four of the five fleet races, including a sweep of Friday's three races in the eight-boat field.

They also dominated the global league's first season, including beating Japan in the $1 million, winner-take-all finale.

"It was a great race," Slingsby, a former America's Cup winner and an Olympic gold medallist, said.

"We feel a little hard done by, as we sailed so well all week. But those are the rules - you've got to win that last race.

"We knew it when we signed up, and we were close but not quite there."

In the first of the Sunday's two fleet races, Team Japan skipper Nathan Outteridge tried to cross in front of Jimmy Spithill's Team USA, which had right-of-way, but misjudged his move and slammed into the blue-hulled boat.

Shortly after the F50 catamarans were separated, the damaged American boat lost control and capsized.

Both the US and Japanese teams who had been within range of reaching the podium race, were forced to retire.

Spithill and Outteridge are both Australians.