06 May 2023
Nine teams will become three this weekend as all eyes are on the race for $1million and who will lift the Season Championship Trophy at the Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final taking place on San Francisco Bay, 6 & 7 May.
After 10 events that have spanned the globe from Bermuda to Saint-Tropez to Chicago, Sydney and beyond, Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team and Peter Burling’s New Zealanders are all but assured a spot in the Championship Final Race of Season 3.
Emirates Great Britain and France, led by Sir Ben Ainslie and Quentin Delapierre respectively, have just one point between them on the overall leaderboard and are in a desperate battle for the final place in the three-boat Grand Final.
The whole fleet completed its final preparations this afternoon on the iconic racecourse in San Francisco Bay which encompasses the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Five fleet races will first take place across Saturday and Sunday before the fleet is trimmed from nine boats to three for the ultimate prize.
Two-time defending SailGP champion Tom Slingsby said his team would be looking to maintain consistent results across all races this weekend.
“For us, we’re going to essentially do what we did last year, we were able to win the San Francisco event and the million dollar race,” Slingsby said
“That’s the goal. I don’t think I’m a sailor who can just deliver the boat around the course and then all of a sudden turn it on and win the last race. We’re a confidence team and we need to be sailing well, we’re going to go out and try and win it all.”
“We don’t mind who wins out of Emirates Great Britain or France, it doesn’t phase us at all, we probably won’t be watching that, we know both teams are dangerous and they can beat us. May the best team win and we’ll see them in the final.”
Chasing Slingsby down and fellow winner of three events this season is Burling, whose New Zealand team has markedly improved after finishing fifth last season.
“We’ve had some good battles with all three of the other teams in contention and as a group we really enjoy these moments when you get to test yourself against the best teams in the world,” Burling said.
“It would be absolutely amazing, as one of the newer teams, to be able to go out and get a win, it would be a huge milestone for the group. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. First we’ve got to definitely get through to the Final.”
Ainslie and Delapierre said they would be looking to focus on their own teams in the leadup to the weekend rather than worry about what rivals were doing.
Ainslie said, “In a way we’ve got zero to lose and everything to gain. We’re going to have to battle hard to get into the final but we’ll be ready for a full on race and give everything we can to win. We want to be there racing against the best teams and we enjoy those high pressure moments so we’re looking forward to it.”
Delapierre added “The opportunity is now in front of us, I am proud of that and I think we deserve our position today. It’s exciting, it’s not intimidating. Ben and Tom have achieved almost everything in our sport and have inspired the next generation, in France we say ‘Merci, Monsieur’ and we’ll see what happens this week.”
This time last season Jimmy Spithill and his United States team was in the Grand Final race, but he enters this weekend in a disappointing seventh on the leaderboard.
“It’s disappointing not to be in the main event, if you’re an NFL team you want to be in the Super Bowl, so it’s disappointing not to have a shot,” said Spithill.
“We weren’t good enough, we don’t deserve to be in the final. We had an up and down season and we weren’t consistent enough, we won an event, we had a couple of finals but we had some really bad results too and you can’t do that if you want to be in the Grand Final.”
Away from the action on the water, the Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL was crowned Impact League champions.
In the most hotly contested Impact League to date, Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark overcame fierce competition from defending champions New Zealand, who finished just five points behind in second, with Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team placed third.
Introduced in Season 2, the Impact League is a second leaderboard which runs alongside the Season Championship and tracks the positive actions teams take to reduce their overall footprint and accelerate inclusivity in sailing.
“We are delighted and proud to win the Impact League this season,” said Sehested. “It is impossible to win a competition as tough and unique as the Impact League without full commitment and dedication from everyone on the team, and the support and guidance of our partners ROCKWOOL and One Ocean Foundation.
“The level of competition from the other teams has been higher than ever before. There is no magic trick to winning the Impact League, but I think our victory shows what is possible with hard work, innovation and creativity, and we have done the small things really well and consistently. Since day one this season, we have approached the Impact League with the same belief, intensity and vigor that we approach racing in SailGP.”
The top young male and female sailing athletes from around the world have also converged on San Francisco Bay to compete for the ultimate prize at the WASZP Grand Final – Championship of Champions. The WASZP Grand Final is the culmination of SailGP’s Inspire Racing x WASZP series and offers the next generation of sailors an unparalleled opportunity to compete at the highest level.
On the water, racing starts at 2.30pm local time 6 May and is available to watch on CBS Sports and streamed live on YouTube all weekend, to find out more on how to watch around the world, go to SailGP.com/Watch
1 // Australia // 84 points
2 // New Zealand // 73 points
3 // France // 69 points
4 // Great Britain // 68 points
5 // Denmark // 60 points
6 // Canada // 59 points
7 // United States // 57 points
8 // Switzerland // 29 points
9 // Spain // 29 points
*United States penalised 4 season points
*New Zealand penalised 4 season points
*Switzerland penalised 2 season points
*Spain penalised 2 season points
1 // Denmark // 1565 points
2 // New Zealand // 1560 points
3 // Great Britain // 1516 points
Day One Racing: Saturday6 May, 1430-1600 Pacific Daylight Time
Day Two Racing (incl. Championship Final Race): Sunday 7 May, 1430-1600 Pacific Daylight Time