Emirates GBR SailGP team has finished third in the Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco. Ainslie’s crew were up against New Zealand and the two-time defending champions, Australia, who completed a hat-trick of Championship wins to take home the $1m prize.
After starting the race weekend in fourth place, Emirates GBR rose to the challenge and performed well in the five fleet races to secure the third and final spot on the winner-takes-all Grand Final. Quentin Delapierre’s French team were hoping to take that place, having started the weekend one point ahead of Emirates GBR, but the French were unable to hold off the Brits who entered day one of racing with a “game plan” to hamper the French team’s starts.
As sunshine beamed across San Francisco Bay, crowds lined the shore on Sunday to watch the nine teams race the course between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in near-perfect conditions.
In fleet race four, Emirates GBR finished in fourth place after receiving a penalty for not keeping clear of Australia, while France crossed the finish line first, followed by Australia and Denmark.
Emirates GBR finished the last fleet race of Season 3 in fifth place, behind Denmark, USA, Canada and Australia. The Aussies were the overall winner of the San Francisco event, while Ainslie’s crew finished in second place, meaning they scored enough points to gain the third spot in the Grand Final from France.
In the Grand Final, Emirates GBR had a tough job on its hands after entering the box later than Australia and New Zealand and crossed the start line in third position. Ainslie’s team managed to climb to second place but were overtaken by the Kiwis who found more favourable wind on the course. It was close at the end, but the reigning champions Australia managed keep their lead from start to finish to seal the deal, and the $1m prize.
Speaking after the Grand Final, Emirates GBR CEO and Driver Ben Ainslie said unfortunately the second day of racing “wasn’t quite clicking” for the team like it did on day one.
“That final race wasn’t our finest, so we’re frustrated with that, but the team’s come a long way this season,” he said.
“Certainly, hats off to Australia to get the three, that’s an amazing achievement so huge congrats to Tommy and his Australian team.”
Ainslie said Emirates GBR was “hooked” by Australia as they approached the start line.
“It was just as I was crossing the boat so getting the helm to react to that was harder than normal but they did a nice job,” he said.
“It looked like there were some opportunities to get back in the race but we had a big crash down which kind of finished our race.
“It’s disappointing to not turn it up when it counts, which is what we planned to do and tried to execute, but that’s sport and it just shows how narrow the margins are between success and failure.”