Australia on course for first event win of the season but face competition from Botín and consistent ROCKWOOL Denmark
CÁDIZ-ANDALUCÍA – October 14, 2023 – A dramatic first day of action at the Spain Sail Grand Prix produced three different winners as host Spain, France and championship leader Australia took victories, with the latter’s dominance in the third race putting it in pole position ahead of day two in Cádiz, in the region of Andalucía.
Diego Botín’s Spain gave the packed home crowd plenty to cheer as it recorded a popular victory in race one, before a storming start from Quentin Delapierre saw the French team dominate in race two, leading from start to finish.
But victory in the third and final race of the day belonged to Tom Slingsby’s Australia, whose fifth in race one and second in race two propelled the team to the top of the leaderboard. While it didn’t pick up a win, Nicolai Sehested’s ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team was arguably the most consistent as a third, fourth and second ranks it second, ahead of host Spain.
Slingsby said: “We are on top of the leaderboard. We have been up there but we haven’t finished there in an event yet. It was a really good day but we would love to finish it off. We can only do what we can do and concentrate on sailing better and try to make that final and then execute in the podium race.”
There was plenty of drama at the start of the first race of the day as Sebastien Schneiter’s Switzerland was awarded a black flag and with it, instant disqualification, reducing the field to nine. The Swiss attempted to barge in at the start, very nearly causing a collision if Sehested hadn’t taken avoiding action.
In the midst of that drama Spain won the sprint to the first gate – and a lead that it would not relinquish on its home waters.
Botín said: “It is a feeling that we will never forget. We are enjoying it a lot but we will refocus and get the learnings to be able to put our best foot forward [on day two]. These days are tricky – when you are on the edge of foiling and not foiling. With a big fleet like this, that gives a lot of wind shadows, it is quite hard to get it right. We rely a lot on Joan [Cardona], who is calling a lot of stuff to keep the boat fast. That’s how we play it and it worked well for us.”
France was chased by Australia throughout the second race and Slingsby was right on Delapierre’s tail coming into gate three. Impressive decision making kept France in front and it looked like a return to form for the French who took victory ahead of Australia.
Gate three provided plenty of drama between Canada and Spain – showing no love lost between Robertson and Botín this season. Botín attempted to push in and round the mark inside Canada but, with no right of way, Robertson quickly closed the door on Spain and, with no way out, the home team collided with the turning mark, resulting in a penalty. Following an umpire review onshore, Spain was then penalized a further four points as the contact with the race mark resulted in minor damage to the Spanish F50.
France was the most aggressive in the build up to the start of race three but it was a battle between Spain and Australia to mark one – which Slingsby won. The Australian driver then essentially wrapped up the win by keeping the Spanish team behind it in disturbed air and managing to sail away with the victory.
Third in race one and fourth in race two, ROCKWOOL Denmark completed a great day by chasing down Spain and finishing ahead of it in second.
Sehested said: “Before the practice races we put in a lot of training to get ready for the day. It worked well for us so we thought let’s work hard and be fully tuned in when the racing starts. We had a bad Sunday in Taranto. We looked a lot into why and we did come up with some answers in terms of how we set up the boat and making silly mistakes. I don’t think we are going to make those mistakes again so it is a different boat this time and that just changes things a little bit.”
Elsewhere, New Zealand had a lukewarm return despite a convincing performance in practice racing, picking up 4-5-8 race results to finish sixth at the end of the day. Ben Ainslie’s Emirates GBR also had a tricky day despite winning the last two events in Taranto and Saint-Tropez. The team suffered technical issues ahead of racing and finished with 8-10-6 results, making it almost impossible for the Brits to make tomorrow’s Final.
The final day of the Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz continues at 3:30 p.m. local time, October 15, and can be seen on RTVE Play, LaLiga+ and TV3 with repeats on linear FTA. For details on how to watch around the globe visit SailGP.com/watch. For fans in Spain, limited on-water tickets are still available to have an amazing seat in the heart of the action. Head to SailGP.com/Spain for more information.
SPAIN SAIL GRAND PRIX | ANDALUCÍA – CÁDIZ //
Day Two Racing: Sunday, October 15, 3:30 p.m – 5:00 p.m. CEST
SPAIN SAIL GRAND PRIX DAY ONE STANDINGS //
1 // Australia 25 points
2 // ROCKWOOL Denmark 24 points
3 // Spain 19 points*
4 // United States 18 points
5 // France 16 points
6 // New Zealand 16 points
7// Canada 14 points
8 // Switzerland 10 points
9 // Emirates GBR 9 points
10 // Germany 9 points
*Spain SailGP Team penalized four points for damage sustained by colliding with a mark
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