Ainslie starts Britain’s Sail GP campaign with victory
Great Britain’s SailGP F50, helmed by Sir Ben Ainslie, who learnt his craft here in Truro.
28th April 2021
By Gareth Davies
Sir Ben Ainslie, Britain’s most decorated sailor, who learnt his craft on the River Fal, led his SailGP team to victory in the first final of the new season in Bermuda.
The British side defeated rivals France and Australia and delivered a much-improved showing over the two-day competition after finishing seventh in the first two races. In a remarkable upturn in fortunes, Ainslie and his crew reached the final before pipping Australia to overall victory.
The medal match saw Britain make a defiant start and in testing conditions, their F50 catamaran crossed the line first.
First place for Britain over France and Australia, sees Ainslie sit top of the season standings with seven Grand Prix events still go – the final of which sees a winner-takes-all race take place in San Fransisco next March with $1million up for grabs.
Speaking from onboard the team’s F50 as the celebrations began, both for winning the Grand Prix and for grinder Neil Hunter’s birthday, helm Ainslie said:
“It’s seriously hard out here with the testing conditions. We’ve had some issues in the past couple of days and have been trying to work them out. We’ve been trying some set-up changes and it was better in that race.”
“That was a cracking day of racing. That’s what we want to do, go up against these guys in conditions like this. It was just perfect.
“I have to give huge credit to the team. We really struggled in the opening day, as you saw. We went through and analysed what was going wrong with our coach Rob Wilson and Hannah Mills overnight and it has been a big team effort.
“It still wasn’t perfect, but the team just sailed the boat really well. We tried to give the Australians a little luff out of mark one and got quite close to a penalty but then it was all on that following gybe out of the boundary and the guys nailed it. The guys onboard, flying the boat when we weren’t 100 per cent in control in terms of control, did an awesome job.”
SailGP resumes in Taranto for the Italy Sail Grand Prix on June 5. Ainslie’s home Grand Prix takes place in Plymouth on July 17 and 18.