Australia claims podium finish in nail biter Dubai final

With Jimmy Spithill announcing his retirement from SailGP

Jimmy Spithill has steered Australia to a podium finish in Dubai, in a nail biting final that saw multiple lead changes and a near pile up in the last mark. 

The super Sunday of racing gave the Australian’s a chance at a rematch with Canada and New Zealand, who all met in the podium final in Christchurch in Season 3. The three-boat winner-takes-all final went right to the wire on the tight race track, with lead changes throughout and a constantly reshuffling leaderboard.

The race was defined by tense match racing between Australia and Canada, before New Zealand split the course at Gate 2, leaving all three boats to come together at the final mark rounding.

Despite crossing the finish line in first place, a last minute penalty denied Canada victory. New Zealand and Australia crossed the finish line almost side by side, and a matter of meters handed the event title to the Kiwis.

Jimmy Spithill, commented on just how close the finish line result was saying: “I don’t think any of us knew what the result was – there were multiple complications at the last gate.”

It was a really tight race and the team kept fighting the whole way. Full credit to the kiwis, they were able to catch up whilst Canada and us were having a good battle. It’s got to be one of the closest finals we have seen in SailGP.”

Spithill’s solid leadership of the Australia Team has enabled the Australian’s to extend their number one position in the Season 4 leaderboard, ahead of Tom Slingsby’s return to the wheel at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix. 

Spithill said: “I gave myself a goal coming into the team to get a consistent result, not get penalty boats or damage the boat, so from that point of view I’m really satisfied but of course I would have loved to have gotten them a win here in Dubai.” 

Jimmy Spithill also made a surprise announcement after racing, revealing that this was his last race as a SailGP athlete. Spithill will be retiring from racing in SailGP to focus on his role in running a new Italian team for SailGP Season 5.

Spithill said: “This was my last race as a SailGP athlete. It’s time for me to let fresh young blood into the competition, with the new Italian team, where I’ll take the role of CEO. And, what a way to go out with the Aussies.”

It’s been one hell of a ride and I’m going to miss the battles and the competition. It’s a full circle moment for me as it’s been over 20 years since I raced for Australia, so it feels fitting that I end my SailGP athlete  journey on board with the Aussies.”

The Australia team will now head to its next event, the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix, on January 13-14, before returning to home waters for the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix I Sydney on February 24-25. Tickets are available at SailGP.com/Sydney.

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