Emirates GBR Driver Giles Scott handles foiling F50 for the first time in Sydney.

Giles Scott, who stepped into Sir Ben Ainslie’s shoes as driver of Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, got his first taste of flying an F50 during racing on Sydney Harbour today as the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix got underway. The big winds that were forecast failed to materialise, instead the 10 competing teams had to have their eyes out of the boat, as the shifty, variable southerly breeze osculated in both speed and direction, making for a tricky day on the water, especially for those new to SailGP. 

After Friday’s practice racing was cancelled due to a forecasted storm, Emirates GBR had little time to get to grips with the Sydney Harbour racecourse, that had a not so strategically placed – Shark Island – right in the middle.

Emirates GBR struggled to get off the start line in good shape, making for a tough day’s racing for the British team, and they ended up finishing race one ninth out of the 10 competing nations.

Race two was delayed while Canada dealt with a technical issue, which ended up ruling them out of the next two races. The second race was a game of snakes and ladders for Emirates GBR, with them starting off at the back of the pack before rolling the dice early and splitting with the fleet, taking them from last to first after the first leg. Another split, saw the team drop to sixth, their best result of the day. The young Spanish team took the gauntlet Australia’s Tom Slingsby had thrown at them, with a decisive win in race two with the Australian chasing just behind in second.

The final race of the day saw Germany charge off the line to lead at mark one, with aggressive sailing by France’s Quentin Delapierre finding a gap maybe no one else would have dared to take just behind the young German team. Emirates GBR had another tough start and struggled to find their lane and clear air finishing the final race of the day in seventh place. New Zealand took the win, followed by Denmark and France.

Photo: Ricardo Pinto for SailGP.

After three races, Denmark sits at the of the leaderboard with the most consistent of days, closely followed by home favorites Australia and the neighbours, New Zealand in third overall.

Speaking after the racing, Scott said: “It was a pretty tricky day, the first one for me on the foils. The racecourse is super tricky, just the shift factor and the breeze being up and down makes it particularly difficult.

“We had three shocking starts that were very similar, so we will have to have a good look at that tonight.

“We just got completely gassed out. We had a few moments where we got ourselves back in to the mix, but equally we had a few where we got in and fell back out.

“I am enjoying it though. I think as I clock more days I’m going to be able to get my head out of the boat a bit more and things will be more automatic.”

Emirates GBR Strategist Hannah Mills said: “It was a really tough day, super shifty out there with really big ups and downs in pressure. We struggled a bit to get off the start line which made things hard.

“It’s amazing to be back sailing in Sydney Harbour though, it’s so iconic and just a beautiful place to sail, although tricky in today’s breeze.

“Conditions tomorrow are a bit different, quite light potentially, so it’s going to be all change. Hopefully we can have some better starts and a better day.”

Race day two commences on Sunday, and UK viewers can watch the action on a delayed broadcast on ITV4 at 00:55 or live on SailGP’s YouTube.