Skipper Fletcher guides GB to third in the opener

Dylan Fletcher captained Great Britain to third place in the first-ever stage of SailGP.

Thursday, 21st February 2019, 7:48 am
Updated Thursday, 21st February 2019, 7:54 am
Dylan Fletcher and his Great Britain crew take part in the opening SailGP event in Sydney Harbour. Picture courtesy of SailGP

The competition, which bills itself as ‘re-defining the sport of sailing’, pits teams from six nations against each other across five Grand Prix events with the eventual winners taking a $1m prize.All the teams race 50-foot foiling catamarans – a new boat which is a redesigned version of the AC50 used in the America’s Cup last year.The opening event was held in Sydney Harbour over two days and saw host nation Australia come out overall winners after two days of competition.However, Market Harborough sailor Fletcher, who was helmsman for the Great Britain team, was happy with the way his men coped in a brand-new form of racing.“I’m really proud of the team and how we performed for this first event, given our lack of training in these F50s and racing them being a whole new experience for me,” he said.“We started well and were racing well, and today (Sunday) felt much better than yesterday with smoother and much faster foiling gybes. “We were always learning and making gains on the fleet which feels good. “We looked hard at the data and we need to do much more of that analysis going forward.“I absolutely loved the racing, can’t wait for more and we are all really looking forward to San Francisco.”Over 20,000 people watched the home nation win the competition as they knocked overnight leaders Japan into second place.The Australian skipper Tom Slingsby added: “We don’t take losing lightly and that first race of the event really shot us into gear. “I couldn’t be happier with how it went. “I hold my team to a high standard and they really over delivered.“I don’t know which day had more spectators but it looked unbelievable – (an) amazing the turnout for the first event of its kind in Sydney.”SailGP now heads for San Francisco where round two will take place over the weekend of May 4/5.