- Ainslie misses final by a gnat’s whisker
- Archrival Tom Slingsby gets late foul on British Team
- Burling takes first SailGP event win for New Zealand
Ben Ainslie came within a gnat’s whisker of the British Grand Prix Final, only to be denied by archrival Tom Slingsby.
Ainslie took the British SailGP team to a win in the first race of day 2 to set up a Final place with one race to go.
For the final qualification race (race 5) Ainslie pulled off a brilliant recovery after the wind dropped for the start, leaving the fleet struggling to get on the foils.
He battled through the snakes and ladder fleet, moving into third behind Pete Burling’s New Zealand team and Nicolai Sehested and the Danish team at Gate 3.
On the approach to the shortened finish at Gate 4 Ainslie had to cross Slingsby’s Australia, who had right of way, and in a close call was adjudged to have fouled the Aussies, forcing him to drop behind them to finish fourth.
That placed Ainslie in fourth overall tied on 36 points with third placed Denmark and out of the Final, three-boat race, to decide the Grand Prix event winner.
The Final race between New Zealand, Denmark and Australia was reduced to a lottery, with the crews chasing the wind to get on their foils rather than the shortest route to the finish.
Burling took New Zealand into the lead off the line and round the first mark, with Sehested and the Danish team gaining the advantage at Gate 2 before dropping off the foils, quickly followed by New Zealand and Australia.
Slingsby got Australia moving first, but Denmark led on the approach to Gate 3, where a fast moving New Zealand squeezed inside to lead to the finish, taking a comfortable 500+ metre victory ahead of Australia and Denmark.
This was a first SailGP event win for Burling and the New Zealand team and with Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark making their first event Final, an indication of how fast the newer teams are getting to grips with tricky F50 foiling multihulls.
In the 2021-2022 Season 3 Championship after 3 events, Australia has a five point lead from Great Britain, with New Zealand in third place tied on points with Canada.
Next SailGP event is the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix on 19 and 20 August 2022.