With Japan and Australia secured into the final match race, the United States, China, France and Great Britain took to the start line to battle for the final podium position. Going into the first mark the United States and China were closely matched trading the lead on leg one and two. But Rome Kirby U.S. team couldn’t hold onto the top position in the fleet, allowing Billy Besson of France and Phil Robertson of China to pass them upwind of leg three.
Leg four saw success for Besson, who steered ahead of the China team and run away with the lead to the roar of local crowds. It was close to the finish between the two, but their extremely strong downwind showing led to French team’s first race win on home soil ahead of Robertson’s China team.
Kirby was able to capture third in the fleet race ahead of Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher, a disappointment for the British who held the third place position at the start of yesterday’s racing.
Race eight has been abandoned due to lack of wind, meaning China was able to secure third place overall, putting them on the podium behind Australia and Japan.
Tom Slingsby announced at the conclusion of race seven that the Australia SailGP Team would be entering the starting box on port tack for the SailGP Championship Final Race for US$1 million.
SailGP Championship Final Race
In a dramatic beginning to the SailGP Championship Final Race, Tom Slingsby of Australia entered the starting box early, incurring a penalty that forced the Australians to start behind Nathan Outteridge’s Japan team. Taking the opportunity to move ahead, Japan owned the start leading Australia by two seconds for the first two mark roundings.
Trouble was on the horizon when Australia split from Japan at the first top gate, allowing Slingsby clear air and better boat speed than Outteridge.
When the two teams converged at the final downwind gate, Outteridge went for an aggressive play, attempting to use his right of way position to force Slingsby off his course and cause him a penalty. The offensive play backfired, Outteridge couldn’t establish an overlap with the Australian boat and force a penalty on him and in doing so lost his own boat speed and gave the race to his competitor.
Slingsby triumphantly crossed the finish line 13 seconds ahead of Outteridge to make history as the first ever SailGP Champion.