SailGP: Great Britain dominant on day one in Dubai

On a day of light winds and close racing, Sir Ben Ainslie mastered conditions to take control of the inaugural Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas, meaning the British team sits five points clear at the top of the event leaderboard, ahead of Jimmy Spithill’s United States and Peter Burling’s New Zealand SailGP Team.

Championship leaders Australia endured a difficult day on the water as Tom Slingsby’s team ended the day in eighth position. The race for tomorrow’s event final looks extremely tight with just two points separating second from seventh on the standings.

After finishing sixth in the first race of the day Great Britain recorded back-to-back victories to put one foot in tomorrow’s final.

Ainslie said: “We had a tough start but we regrouped so well, we managed to tame the light, tight conditions which is really pleasing, that’s the area where we have probably struggled most in SailGP, so it’s just great to see the team pull through and come together like that.”

Second in the standings and now third in the event standings, New Zealand could close the gap in the title race to Australia with a strong day two performance.

Burling said: “We’re a little disappointed we didn’t get three or four other points today, we were leading the second race and let it slip. t’s one of those events where every single point is so important and we are happy to be at the right end of the leaderboard, but we are under no illusions as to how tight it’s going to be for that final tomorrow.”

Continuing its second half of the season renaissance, the United States ended the day in second place.

“It was so difficult out there, not only super tight but the boats feel like they’re just stuck together on a piece of shock cord, it’s so close and so challenging to negotiate but we got better as the races went on. The difficulty is tomorrow will be totally different so we throw away what we learnt today basically and start again,” Spithill said.

With platinum tickets sold out for the event, the packed grandstands enjoyed the closest racing to shore seen all season. Teams came within 60 meters of the shoreline at Mina Rashid as fans discovered a whole new way to experience SailGP.

Standings after 3 races:
1 // Great Britain // 25 points
2 // United States // 20 points
3 // New Zealand // 20 points
4 // France // 19 points
5 // Canada // 19 points
6 // Switzerland // 18 points
7 // Denmark // 18 points
8 // Australia // 13 points
9 // Spain // 10 points

Day two of racing starts at 3.00pm. local time and is live on Dubai Sports 3 in Dubai. Fans around the globe can watch from wherever they are at: http://SailGP.com/watch

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