After a two-event absence, Ben Ainslie returned to racing with the Great Britain SailGP Team Friday in Aarhus, Denmark.
The British team capped off the opening day with a race win to move into second place in the standings ahead of the all-important second and final day of the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix.
The leaderboard is very tight, only two points separating Slingsby’s Australians in first, Ainslie’s Brits in second and Spithill’s Americans in third.
Lighter winds are expected for the final day of racing at the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix. The stakes are high in the final two fleet races to see who can make it through to the final three boat winner-takes-all podium race.
Day 1 Racing . . .
In the first race, with Ainslie back behind the wheel and eager to get back in the action, a good start for the British team in the first race saw them round the first reach mark in third place, chasing the home Denmark SailGP Team, led by Nicolai Sehested.
As the fleet approached the final mark in light air close to the city, the British F50 had snuck into the lead, but a bad tack saw the Brits fall off their foils at the crucial moment and watch the Danish, Australian and New Zealand boats all pass.
The loudest cheer of the day came for the hometown heroes Denmark winning their first ever SailGP race in front of the home crowd. Ben Ainslie’s crew finished the opening race in fourth.
In the second race, Jimmy Spithill’s USA SailGP Team took an impressive win after a last-minute crew change due to their wing trimmer, Paul Campbell-James, breaking his leg in training the day before.
The Australia SailGP Team, led by Tom Slingsby, managed to pick boats off in the final metres to take second place, with the British finishing in fifth.
In the final race of the day Ainslie and the British crew nailed the start to take the early lead with the Kiwis hot on their tail.
One mistake by Burling, however, saw Ainslie pull away from the fleet to finish with a race win, 41 seconds ahead of second placed New Zealand, with Slingsby again finding a way through the fleet for the Australian boat to finish in third.
SailGP Denmark Overall leaderboard after three races:
- AUS 18
- GBR 17
- USA 16
- DEN 15
- NZL 14 (2 points deducted for contact with FRA)
- JPN 13
- FRA 6 (4 points deducted for contact with NZL)
- ESP 0