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It’s a wrap

KPMG Sail Grand Prix Australia | Sydney delivered an incredible show of tactics, skill and strength, and despite hectic conditions post-racing, Day 1 was a total crowd-pleaser.

20 February 2023

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Blustery conditions on Sydney Harbour created optimal conditions for the foiling F50 cats, but at the end of racing on Day 1, Saturday 18 February, 100-km/h gusts resulted in significant damage to the wing sail of Canada SailGP Team and the marquees at the SailGP technical site.

This forced SailGP organisers to cancel the second day of racing on Sydney Harbour to allow a full assessment of damage to take place. Thankfully, no-one was seriously injured during the incident.

Prior to the weather event, as it was termed, Sydney turned on its spectacular best with blue skies, cool breezes to quench the sun’s heat, a harbour dotted with pleasure craft taking their positions around the race track, and the islands and foreshores crammed with spectators eager to witness the on-water action.

The 50-km/h wind conditions proved challenging for the fleet. The dramatic first day was plagued by technical issues, near capsizes, messy manoeuvres and even an Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team crew member falling overboard during the first fleet race.

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The first fleet race began with Australia announcing it would not be able to race due to technical issues before the gold and green F50 dramatically crossed the start line. Despite issues, the team held on throughout messy manoeuvres to finish the race in third overall.

Meanwhile, Peter Burling’s New Zealand, currently second in the Championship standings, was forced to retire from the first race due to technical issues and finished the day in sixth overall, one point behind Denmark in fifth.

Emirates GBR grinder Matt Gotrel fell through the fairing of the foiling F50 catamaran as the team approached the finish line while travelling at speeds of 50 km/h.

Gotrel remained attached to the F50 via his safety line and was quickly pulled back on board by his teammates with no injuries reported. The team went on to finish the race in sixth place and picked up a record of 6–6–2 across the first day.

Day 1 belonged to the French – Quentin Delapierre’s France team rose to the challenge of dominating the racing, picking up three consecutive race wins.

Jimmy Spithill’s United States team kept their San Francisco hopes alive by picking up three second-place positions and finishing in second overall.

Plagued by technical issues, home favourites Australia still managed a respectable racing record of 3–4–6 to finish third after three fleet races.

Diego Botin’s second day behind the wheel of the Spanish F50 resulted in the team picking up an 8–5–9 racing record, with promising moments throughout.

After the cancellation of Day 2 of racing, France has moved back into third place on the overall Championship leaderboard after dominating fleet racing on the first day of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix.

Saturday’s three fleet races were deemed enough to constitute an event despite the cancellation of the second day of racing due to a major weather incident.

The refreshed Championship standings see France move into the coveted third place position with 63 points, just one point from New Zealand in second place, while Australia still tops the rankings on 76 points.

Despite moving down to fourth place, the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team is just two points behind France. Denmark also remains within touching distance of the top three with 57 points.

Speaking about the event, driver Quentin Delapierre said Sydney was exactly what his team needed.

“We’re ticking the boxes and are super happy with the results here. However, the storm was tricky and it was disappointing not to be able to finish with a Sunday super finale,” he said.

“We all want to help and support SailGP and the tech team recover for Christchurch – it will be a big push for sure.”

The league has indicated that after a preliminary assessment, it plans to move forward with the next two events in Season 3, the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch on 18 and 19 March and the Grand Final, the United States Sail Grand Prix | San Francisco, on 6 and 7 May.

 

SailGP.com

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