Denmark, Australia share top spot after day-one racing of Australian SailGP-Xinhua

Denmark, Australia share top spot after day-one racing of Australian SailGP

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-02-24 21:42:15

SYDNEY, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- The international sailing competition Sail Grand Prix (SailGP) returned to the Sydney Harbor on Saturday for its eighth stop on the Season Four calendar, with Denmark and Australia tied on the top spot after three fleet races.

After a light-wind season to date, the Australian SailGP started just over 4:00 p.m. local time with huge thunderclouds blanketing the city. The temperature was between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius, while the wind blew at about 30 kilometers per hour with the gust speed hitting 37 kilometers per hour.

Skippered by 39-year-old veteran Tom Slingsby, three-time SailGP Champions Australia enjoyed a flying start by clocking 12 minutes and two seconds in the first race, more than a minute ahead of the runners-up Denmark.

The home favorites followed the win with a second and a fourth place finishes to wrap up the day, tallying 26 points on the event's leaderboard.

"After that first race, I thought 'Oh, here we go and go for three bullets.' But it's too tough today for that to happen. We had two tough starts in the next ones. But we started really well and it was honestly one of the best days," Slingsby said post-match.

With no titles under their belt so far this season, Slingsby and his crew remain poised to capitalize on the energy of home waters and gun for a long-awaited win.

"If we were gonna win our first event of the year, I would love for it to be the Sydney event, our home event. But we are not too sure what is gonna happen. There are a few teams that did really well. There are probably five teams who are within five or six points," Slingsby told Xinhua at the mixed zone.

"We need a good first race tomorrow and try to cement our position in the final and then if we do make the final, the plan is to be a bit more aggressive than we have been previously," he added.

According to Slingsby, New Zealand looms as a formidable rival in Australia's quest for an event title on Sunday.

"They've won the last two events. They're in third place after today. They came second last season. They are for sure the team that we watched the most. But the Spanish team won one race today and we have equal points with the Danish, so anyone can win," he noted.

Holding a consistent 2-3-2 record, Nicolai Sehested steered the Danish team to share the lead with Australia.

"We had more wind today than we had for a long time. It was very shifty in direction and strength so that made it more challenging. It was definitely a hard day," Sehested said after the racing.

"All we do is to try to win every single race and then we will see what we get. That is the key today. It wasn't anything special. We just tried to keep it consistent, easy starts and just to stay atop the fleet," said the Danish helmsman.

With a mostly sunny condition forecast to come back, Sehested pointed out that Sunday would see "a different day in Breeze and also configuration on the boat."

"Now we can't take anything from today. We will just get a reset and do our homework for tomorrow," he noted.

In addition to Denmark and Australia topping the leaderboard with 26 points apiece, New Zealand, driven by Nathan Outteridge, finished third with 24 points, France came fourth with 21 points, and Spain secured fifth place with 20 points.

The Australian SailGP will resume on Sunday, with two more fleet races to unfold before a winner-takes-all final determines the event champion.