Slingsby rallies to stay alive while Scott has Britain in the lead in Canada Sail Grand Prix

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Three-time defending SailGP champion Tom Slingsby of Team Australia rebounded from two poor performances to win the third fleet race and stay in contention in the inaugural ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix Halifax on Saturday.

The Aussies are sixth overall in the 10-boat fleet of identical foiling 50-foot catamarans heading into Sunday's final two fleet races. The top three boats advance to the podium race.

Giles Scott skippered Emirates Great Britain into first place with finishes of 3-5-2 for 23 points, with season leader Peter Burling of New Zealand second with 22 points and Nicolai Sehested of ROCKWOOL Denmark third with 21. Canada and Spain have 20 points each and the Aussies and France have 18 apiece.

Slingsby showed how quickly things can change, especially on a day with shifty, gusty conditions. The Aussies finished eighth and sixth in the first two races before shooting the line at the start to get into great position and then finishing ahead of Britain and Canada.

“We were in a battle all day, it felt like,” Slingsby said. “It felt like we sailed the boat somewhat well today but we just weren't in phase with the shifts and that responsibility falls on my shoulders. We've got the talent, we've got the skill set, we just need to put it all together. It was nice to finish well today. This puts us in with a chance heading into day two of making the final and that's what we needed.”

Slingsby got caught in what he called a “dog fight” in the second race with fellow Australian Nathan Outteridge, who is skippering the Swiss team. Slingsby said Outteridge made several aggressive moves that pushed the two teams into a match race, which the Aussies felt was intended to sabotage them.

“We felt we were a bit unlucky out there today and we had a few bad instances in the second race," Slingsby said. "I was pretty frustrated with my old mate Nath. He chose to luff us about 15 times in a 20-second period. He could have chosen to go straight into the reach mark and keep his position, but instead chose to get into a dog fight with us to push us back in the fleet.”

Slingsby beat Outteridge, then skippering Team Japan, in the first two $1 million, winner-take-all season championships.

Diego Botin of Spain won the first race while Denmark won the second race.

The reconfigured Team USA finished 10th in all three races.

Burling, the reigning two-time America's Cup champion helmsman and a three-time Olympic medalist, came into this regatta atop the season leaderboard with a 14-point lead over Slingsby, his rival from across the Tasman Sea. Spain is one point back in third and the Danes are another seven points back in fourth.

After Halifax, there are two regattas left in Season 4, with the top three boats reaching the $2 million, winner-take-all Grand Final on July 14 in San Francisco.

Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and former America's Cup champion, skippered the Aussies to the first three season championships in tech baron Larry Ellison's global league, when the winner-take-all prize was $1 million. The prize money has been doubled this year.


Bernie Wilson has covered sailing for the AP since 1991.


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