Ben Ainslie and the Emirates GBR SailGP team came away from San Francisco after a weekend that promised much but failed to deliver again.
After arriving at the Season 3 final race weekend in fourth place, Emirates GBR rose to the challenge and performed well in the Mubadala SailGP San Francisco event fleet races, finishing the first day tied for the lead with Tom Singsby and the Australian team.
And despite a dip in performance on Day 2, Ainslie secured enough points to join Australia and New Zealand in the Grand Final for the $1m prize. A first for Ainslie since he took over the team for season 2.
But that difference to the British teams day 1 performance was magnified by the three boat format in the winner-takes-all final race.
With Ainslie dumped at the start by Slingsby, it was all over for them as the Aussie and Kiwi boats hit the start at speed.
Slingsby, who was going for a third Grand Final win, controlled the race and despite a near shock upset at the final mark, held off Pete Burling’s late charging Kiwi team to complete a ‘hat-trick’ of one-million-dollar victories.
Making the Grand Final was a first for the British team, they were fourth in 2019 with Dylan Fletcher driving and fourth again in season 2 with Ainslie driving.
Speaking after the Grand Final, Emirates GBR CEO and Driver Ben Ainslie said that unfortunately the second day of racing “wasn’t quite clicking” for the team like it did on day one.
“That final race wasn’t our finest, so we’re frustrated with that, but the team’s come a long way this season,” he said.
He continued . . . “It’s disappointing to not turn it up when it counts, which is what we planned to do and tried to execute, but that’s sport and it just shows how narrow the margins are between success and failure.”
Ainslie and Strategist Hannah Mills said the Emirates GBR team would be looking at the team’s performance and how it could improve ahead of Season 4.
There is little time for them to come up with a solution to the sub-par performance throughout this past season.
Straight from San Francisco the SailGP circuit moves to Chicago for the first event of Season 4 starting on 16 June 2023.
And there will be more distractions for many of the SailGP team members involved in the Paris 2024 Olympics and the continuing build-up to the 37th America’s Cup . . .
Especially Ainslie who is also heading-up the British involvement in the Cup.
For Russell Coutts, co-founder of the SailGP circuit with US software billionaire Larry Ellison, it has been a remarkable ride.
From a standing start he has continued to expand the unique SailGP race circuit concept, overcoming not just the considerable logistics involved in providing the hardware and transporting the circuit around the world, but creating a completely new audience for competitive sailing.
From the original six teams and five events in 2019 . . . season 4 (2023/24) will feature 14 events with nine national teams and a growing world-wide media audience.