Packed shorelines in Cádiz enjoy a gutsy performance from the home team in challenging conditions as Australia and France finish on top
Huge crowds enthralled by close quarters racing at Spain Sail Grand Prix
On a wide-open day of racing that saw three different race winners and six different teams feature in the top three finishers at some stage, large crowds in Cádiz, Andalucía, were treated to a thrilling day of action at the Spain Sail Grand Prix presented by NEAR.
Just three points separate the top five teams in the standings after day one, with Tom Slingsby's Australia and Quentin Delapierre's France sharing the lead after three races. Great Britain, the United States and New Zealand are within two points of the lead, with home team Spain, driven by Jordi Xammar, still a chance of making the event final.
Xammar led his team to a podium finish in the day's middle race to delight the Spanish fans. It leaves the home team three points behind third after a day which saw big waves and choppy conditions make racing difficult.
Xammar said: "I first went out today and saw those conditions and thought 'oh no, I don't want any surprises'. But to finish the day like we did with a huge chance of making the final in front of those crowds just wow, what a special day it was for us, we will give it our all tomorrow."
It was a return to form for Slingsby and his Australian team after a difficult set of results in the last two events. Starting the day with a sixth placed finish, the Australians rallied to finish the day on top of the standings with a first – winning by over one minute – and second place in the day's other events.
Slingsby said: "It wasn't easy in those conditions with the waves – it was like a washing machine out there. There's so many waves bouncing off the break wall and coming back at us – in those conditions you're only one crash away from being passed. The points are so close, and we need to have a good day tomorrow to make the Final. We've just got to focus on ourselves, we need at least two good races out of the three tomorrow and that should cement us into the Final.f we only have one good race it will be up in the air and probably unlikely so we've just got to go out there and have a good first race and then if we're in the Final it's all to play for."
Delapierre will be chasing his second event final tomorrow from an excellent position after a consistent day of racing that saw his team never finish below fourth place.
Delapierre said: "Francois [Morvan] our flight controller did a really good job with those big waves and choppy conditions, it was a pretty challenging day for him and he did so well so we were able to stay at the front of the fleet. I think also the starts were a really good point for us today. Clearly the challenge today was on those waves which were really big, especially with those boats - foiling boats are not built for flying in big waves like this."
Aiming to close the gap on Australia and New Zealand at the top of the championship standings, Ben Ainslie's Great Britain team sits in third after winning the day's third race.
Ainslie said: "It was a tricky day out there, but for us all in all a good day and leaves us with a good chance tomorrow. We battled the conditions well and find ourselves right in contention."
With the conditions expected tomorrow the schedule will likely feature two fleet races and one podium race.
Day two of racing starts at 4.00 p.m. local time and is live on TV3 in Spain. Fans around the globe can watch from where they are at SailGP.com/watch. Very limited tickets are still for Sunday but head to SailGP.com for more information.