Tom Slingsby’s Australia triumphs on home soil with its first win of SailGP Season 4

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First ever SailGP race win for Erik Heil’s Germany

SYDNEY – February 25, 2024 – Tom Slingsby and his Australian crew have been crowned champions of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix I Sydney, flying home in front of an ecstatic and vibrant ‘Genesis Island’ crowd and a jam-packed Sydney Harbour to clinch the sensational win from Denmark and New Zealand in the three-boat final.

With the home crowd cheering them on, the Australia team finally secured its first win of SailGP Season 4 in a dramatic final after missing out in the previous seven SailGP events – despite six podium finishes – to keep Australia at the top of the Season 4 leaderboard and eight points ahead of closest rivals, New Zealand.

Slingsby said: “To win after coming so close so many times and in front of our home crowd of Sydney with our family and friends watching, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

“After the early start penalty, I was convinced it would be hard to get back in the race but the team did so well to set up so we could overtake the Danish to take the lead and get our first win of the season.”

“It was hugely important to us. Personally, you start to doubt yourself when you’re not securing wins in the finals, especially when New Zealand has been doing so well lately, you start to question – are they better than us? To win in Australia, you couldn’t have written a better script for us, it was a mark in the ground where New Zealand had two event wins in a row, and we were up against the ropes on our home turf so to deliver like that is amazing.” 

Thousands of Australian fans watched on as the ten-strong fleet delivered exciting racing for the final two qualifying fleet races which saw Erik Heil’s Germany score its first ever SailGP race win – a great comeback after the near capsize from the team the day prior. Race 5 was close fought but it was Quentin Delapierre’s France that was the victor. Defending a strong challenge from Canada – who were back on the race track after a technical failure on the opening day – and Taylor Canfield’s USA, France had a convincing lead but unfortunately a race win was not enough to make the three-boat final and they finished the event fourth.

The super Sunday of racing came down to a nail biting winner-takes-all Final Podium Race between Australia, New Zealand – driven by Nathan Outteridge, standing in for Peter Burling – and Nicolai Sehested’s ROCKWOOL Denmark.

With all three teams highly motivated for the win; Slingsby his first event win of the season, Sehested his first ever SailGP event win, and Outteridge wanting to win for the Kiwi’s, all three-teams fought hard to get the best start. It looked like this would go to Outteridge as Slingsby held Sehested out but both teams mistimed their final run to the startline and ended up over the line early. This left the Danes out in front and leading at the first mark with both New Zealand and Australia picking up a penalty and having to slow down to get behind them. 

An early split between Denmark and Australia allowed Slingsby to get back in the race and despite Sehested gaining to within a boat length right before the final mark, it was the Aussies who crossed the line first, much to the delight of the cheering home crowd.

Sehested said: “It was a chaotic start, but they just kept pushing towards the line and we were all going to be early if no one stopped. Everyone was pretty keen for some risk so we all went for it.

“We went full speed mode, we went really hard – we had a really good shot at it in the end but we were one boat length short and as soon as I saw that, that was it – that’s life sometimes you miss by one length.”

Completing the podium was New Zealand who now has its sights firmly set on its home event, the ITM New Zealand Grand Prix, taking place in Christchurch on March 23-24. Limited tickets are available at SailGP.com/Christchurch.

New Zealand SailGP Team wing trimmer and co-CEO said: “I am pretty gutted because we did some great work before that. We got ourselves into a really nice spot but not the best execution, I haven’t watched it back yet but they [Australia and Denmark] were fighting each other – we thought we were going to be last so we wanted to push it and turns out we didn’t really need to do that. A bit gutted but all in all a good weekend for the team.

“We now can’t wait to get down to Christchurch, it’s been a long time on the road when you enter the SailGP league, often racing in Europe. Next stop is home and we can’t wait for that – it was absolutely epic last year and a booming crowd. I think we are going to have close to 10,000 people each day – Kiwi support is amazing and the racetrack and grand stand combo is incredible – probably the best in SailGP.”

With just four events remaining until the Season 4 Grand Final in San Francisco on July 13-14 – where US$2 million is on the line – there is still all to play with only seven points separating third and seventh positions.

Credit: SailGP

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