Ben Ainslie did everything expected of him . . . except win the Final Race of the Sail Grand Prix event in Dubai.
After two days of back-to-form sailing from Ainslie, the Great Britain SailGP Team topped the leaderboard to go into the three-boat winner-takes-all Final.
Here they faced Quentin Delapierre’s France and the Australia team who qualified after yet another ‘get out of jail’ performance by Tom Slingsby.
The start saw France and Great Britain storm away as Australia were hit with a penalty.
Delapierre pulled out a 250 metre lead by Gate 4, where Slingsby, who had caught up, followed the French round while Ainslie split away.
That move initially set the Brits back but by Gate 5 Ainslie had recovered and squeezed through inside France and Australia to lead down the final leg in a neck-and-neck race with Australia.
With the British boat holding a small lead they made a final turn for Gate 6, with victory looking within their grasp, only to crash off the foils as they missed the foil drop.
Australia meanwhile had completed their turn safely to sail away for a stunning comeback win.
France were able to sail past the still struggling Brits to take second at the finish.
Ainslie said: “I think that is one of the best examples of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory that I have seen for a very long time, it’s hugely frustrating for the team, we had such a good weekend, and just missed the final move, but that’s SailGP, that’s sport, it happens.”
Despite leading the Dubai event throughout the weekend, the third place finish in the Final race means that the Great Britain SailGP Team remain in fourth overall for the season after seven events to date.
Tom Slingsby and Australia extend their lead to nine points ahead of Pete Burling and New Zealand with Quentin Delapierre’s France in third with a two point advantage over Ainslie and Great Britain.
The only other mover was Denmark who move into fifth place to overtake Canada.
There is now a break before the SailGP Season continues in the New Year with the addition of Singapore to its Season 3 calendar on January 14-15, 2023.
The Race Village will be located at Parkland Green, East Coast Park, for the Singapore Sail Grand Prix when the league’s nine hydrofoiling F50 catamarans hit the waters in Singapore for the first time.