Heated rivalries to help SailGP

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Rivalries fuel interest in sport and are founded in confrontation. Somebody says something and before you know it you have fans taking sides. For a burgeoning sports league like SailGP, this is good news.

Spanish team helm Phil Robertson and his aggressive starting tactics has him in the cross-hairs of US team helm Jimmy Spithill who was nearly steamrolled in the UK event. More recently in Denmark, British helm Ben Ainslie accused Japan helm Nathan Outteridge of slimy tactics.

For SailGP to harness broad interest, heated rivalries can help and British fans are massively loyal.

The latest incident occurred when Ainslie and his crew were judged to not have given Outteridge’s Japanese team enough room at the weather mark, and were subsequently given a penalty by the umpire. While it looked like there was plenty of room, the umpires were reacting to Outteridge’s claim that there wasn’t.

Japan felt Great Britain didn’t give them room to sail their proper course around the left turn mark whether they decide to take that option or not. Tactically, with Japan coming in on port, that left turn would have been deadly, so Outteridge continued on to the right gate mark, but not before pushing the protest button. Penalty Ainslie.

“It felt like a cheap shot from Nathan and I think it’s something the umpires need to look at closely,” said Ainslie after the race.

British fans unleashed on social media:

• “Outteridge playing the only way he knows how!”

• “It was bad sportsmanship on the part of Japan which left the umpire no option. I hope Ben will mark Japan’s card in the next regatta.”

• “Very clever manipulation of the rules by Japan. One of the problems of having a gate at the top or bottom of the course.”

• “Japan visibly dipped to go below GBR because GBR were on Starboard indicates that Japan had no intention of rounding the mark, but were clearly going to round the other mark.”

• “Outteridge’s speculative protest got upheld as he knew he was beaten, but he used the rules and we just have to accept he technically had the right to make the protest. Let’s just get back in there and beat them on the water as we know we can.”

• “Expected more of Nathan Outteridge.”

Here’s the incident:

Finale Result
1. Australia
2. Japan
3. Great Britain

Fleet Race Results (5 races)
1. Great Britain, 29 pts
2. Australia, 27 pts
3. Japan, 25 pts
4. United States, 24 pts
5. New Zealand, 21 pts
6. Denmark, 19 pts
7. France, 11 pts
8. Spain, 11 pts

SailGP Season Championship (after 4 events)
1. Australia, 32 pts
2. Great Britain, 30 pts
3. Japan, 28 pts
4. United States, 26 pts
5. France, 24 pts
6. New Zealand, 23 pts
7. Spain, 23 pts
8. Denmark, 22 pts

Format for SailGP events:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• There are three races on each day, totaling six races at each event.
• The opening five fleet races involve every team.
• The final match race pits the three highest ranking teams against each other to be crowned event champion.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race – a winner-takes-all match race for the $1m prize.

SailGP Season 2 Schedule*
April 24-25, 2021 – Bermuda Grand Prix
June 5-6, 2021 – Italy Grand Prix – Taranto
July 17-18, 2021 – Great Britain Grand Prix – Plymouth
August 20-21, 2021 – ROCKWOOL Denmark Grand Prix – Aarhus
September 11-12, 2021 – France Grand Prix – Saint-Tropez
October 9-10, 2021 – Spain Grand Prix – Andalusia
December 17-18, 2021 – Australia Grand Prix – Sydney
January 29-30, 2022 – New Zealand Grand Prix – Christchurch (CANCELLED)
March 26-27, 2022 – United States Grand Prix – San Francisco (Season 2 Grand Final)
*Subject to change

2021-22 Teams, Helm
Australia, Tom Slingsby
Denmark, Nicolai Sehested
France, Billy Besson
Great Britain, Ben Ainslie (alternate – Paul Goodison)
Japan, Nathan Outteridge
New Zealand, Peter Burling (alternate – Arnaud Psarofaghis)
Spain, Jordi Xammar (alternate – Phil Robertson)
United States, Jimmy Spithill

Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing in some of the iconic harbors around the globe. Rival national teams compete in identical F50 catamarans with the season culminating with a $1 million winner-takes-all match race.

Source: scuttlebutt – https://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2021/08/23/heated-rivalries-to-help-sailgp/

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