Australia prevails in Sydney for first regatta win in Season 4 of SailGP

SYDNEY (AP) — Overall leader Australia held out Denmark to win their home leg of the SailGP series on Sydney harbor on Sunday.

Australia and New Zealand both were over the start line early in the final but while New Zealand couldn’t fully recover and finished third, Australia rallied brilliantly to win a regatta for the first time this season.

Until Sunday, three-time defending champion Australia hadn’t won an event in Season 4 of the global league that features F50 foiling catamarans.

Australia now leads the series with 66 points ahead of New Zealand with 58 points and Denmark with 52 after the eighth regatta of the season. The next of 13 legs is in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 23 and 24.

New Zealand won both of the most recent regattas in the middle east and had won four of seven events before Sydney. Australia bounced back strongly at home after a season-worst seventh place finish in Abu Dhabi last month.

Denmark and Australia were tied for first place after the first day of the regatta Saturday which was raced in blustery conditions. New Zealand was third after winning the third and final race on day one.

Conditions were more moderate Sunday and produced thrilling racing.

Australia and New Zealand both mistimed their starts and crossed the start line too early in the final. That meant they were behind Denmark after completing penalties.

Skipper Tom Slingsby sailed a superb race which allowed Australia to recover and to become involved in a tight tussle with Denmark. But Denmark sailed too close to a buoy near the fifth mark and fell behind by almost 100 meters (yards).

Denmark fought back and drew close to Australia near the finish. But skipper Nicolai Sehested couldn’t pass and Australia took its home event.

The New Zealand boat was helmed over the two days of the regatta by Nathan Outteridge, taking over from regular skipper Peter Burling who is on paternity leave.

The Canadian and German boats were at the center of drama on Saturday. Languishing in eighth spot on the rankings ahead of the Sydney races, Canada withdrew after experiencing mechanical issues and finishing last in the first race, reducing the fleet to nine boats.

Contesting their first Sydney SailGP, Germany came close to capsizing late in the second race as they attempted to evade the French crew around the penultimate mark. The boat had to give way to France, the defending Sydney SailGP champions, but hesitated and missed the mark, eventually finishing the race in eighth spot.

Australia was in danger of missing the winner-take-all final after finishing sixth in the first fleet race Sunday but it recovered to finish third in the second race and to earn its place final in the final.


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