Slingsby steers Aussies to victory in SailGP regatta

Australia’s Tom Slingsby easily beat rivals Sir Ben Ainslie of Britain and Nathan Outteridge of Team Japan in the podium race Saturday to win the Denmark Sail Grand Prix on Aarhus Bay.

The second consecutive regatta victory gives defending champion Australia a 32-30 lead over Britain in the Season 2 standings after four regattas in the eight-team global league. Japan is third with 28 points and the United States is fourth with 26. France has 25 points, Spain and New Zealand 23 and Denmark 22.

The foiling 50-foot catamarans sailed with crews of three rather than five because of light wind.

“It was an amazing team effort in really tough conditions,” said Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and former America’s Cup champion. “It was pretty stressful. We got a good start in the final race and kept our composure while behind us there was a lot of argy-bargy going on between the Brits and the Japanese, but we were able to stay focused and sail away.

“It’s not often you get to beat Ben Ainslie on a race track,” Slingsby said. “He is a legend and you really have to sail at the top of your game to beat him.”

Britain was penalized after umpires determined it didn’t give Japan enough room at the third mark and had to drop behind Japan.

“The Aussies sailed well to be fair. We managed to sail past the Japanese and then the umpires came up with one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen,” Ainslie said.

“I normally don’t moan too much about umpire calls but that was just shocking,” he added. “That call ruined the race for us and probably for the spectators as well. In the end they are there to do a job, it’s not easy for them, and you’ve just to go with the rub of the green, take it on the chin, and come back fighting for the next one.”

Ainslie returned to the helm of the British boat after missing the last two regattas to be with his wife for the birth of their second child. He is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and former America’s Cup champion. Outteridge is an Australian who has won Olympic gold and silver medals and has also sailed in the America’s Cup.

Outteridge won both of Saturday’s fleet races, the fourth and fifth of the regatta, to earn a spot in the podium race.

Slingsby steered the Aussies to the inaugural season championship in 2019 and the $1 million, winner-take-all prize.

The next regatta is Sept. 11-12 at Saint-Tropez, France.

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Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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