The Australia SailGP Team continues to set the championship benchmark in SailGP Season 3, as Tom Slingsby pulled off an impressive recovery to not only steal a last-minute spot in the event final, but overcome Great Britain and Canada to win the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier.
Australia had looked set to miss its first event final since the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez last September – after a last place finish in the day two opener – but went on to win the day’s second race and edge Peter Burling’s New Zealand out of a place in the final.
Slingsby then led Australia to a fifth straight final victory in SailGP as he led from start to finish in the three-boat final to open up a handy lead in the Season 3 standings after just two events.
Slingsby said: “Our team is just really good under pressure, I have always known that but it’s nice for them to be recognized for it and for everyone to see how unbelievable they are. I know if we have a high-pressure situation, the team will perform.”
For the second day running, the grandstands of Navy Pier were packed under sunny skies as Chicago SailGP fans turned out in force. The light winds meant a change to the F50 configuration, with teams racing with the largest 29 meter wing sail which still enabled the boats to foil in the lighter conditions and the day’s top speed was 66kph – more than four times the average wind speed of the day.
Australia team strategist Nina Curtis said Chicago had been a very special place for the team to race. Curtis said: “It was just so cool, you could see the crowd and feel the energy. We had a few awesome sail-bys at the end and it was unreal.”
For the second straight event final, Phil Robertson’s Canada and Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain were Australia’s rivals for the title, with both left to rue what might have been after falling behind to Australia’s fast start and never recovering.
Robertson improved his team’s position from third in Bermuda to a second place finish on Lake Michigan in what continues to be an impressive debut to the championship.
Robertson said: “I think it’s all been above expectations, I mean it’s blowing my mind, obviously we are very happy and to be honest we are in a position we didn’t expect to be, and it’s an amazing entry. We are just riding this wave at the moment and hoping we can stay on it.”
Ainslie was left regretting tactical decisions that saw his team fail to overcome Australia once again in a final.
Ainslie said: “If I could whirl that race back, there are a lot of things I would have done differently. It’s a really interesting dynamic when you have three boats, you can’t afford to try and get too tied up with one boat as the other boat will just nip in and steal it. We had a plan for the prestart which we didn’t execute that well and in hindsight we might have changed that.”
Elsewhere it was a day to savor for the France SailGP Team and driver Quentin Delapierre, as he claimed his first ever SailGP win, dominating the day’s first race with an impressive display. But it was a weekend to forget for the home team as Jimmy Spithill and the U.S. SailGP Team finished eighth on the event ladder with the sole highlight a rallying third place in the event’s final fleet race.
Attention now turns to the European leg of the championship which kicks off in Plymouth – Britain’s Ocean City – for the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix on July 30 and 31.
Ainslie said: “Now we are looking forward to Plymouth. Getting out in front of our home crowd. Hopefully we get some good conditions and some strong winds. It will be great to get the crowds up on Plymouth Hoe, it’s a natural amphitheater for this style of racing and it’s going to be great.”
T-MOBILE UNITED STATES SAIL GRAND PRIX | CHICAGO AT NAVY PIER // FINAL STANDINGS
1 // Australia // 10 points
2 // Canada // 9 points
3 // Great Britain // 8 points
4 // New Zealand // 7 points
5 // France // 6 points
6 // Denmark // 5 points
7 // Spain // 4 points
8 // United States// 3 points
9 // Switzerland // 2 points
Individual race results can be found at SailGP.com/results.
SAILGP SEASON 3 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS // (after two events)
1 // Australia // 20 points
2 // Canada // 17 points
3 // Great Britain // 17 points
4 // New Zealand // 12 points
5 // Denmark // 12 points
6 // France // 9 points
7 // United States // 9 points
8 // Spain // 8 points
9 // Switzerland // 4 points