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Canada's dream start to SailGP continues with dominant day one display

by SailGP 19 Jun 01:55 BST 18-19 February 2023
The fleet sail past spectators at Navy Pier on Race Day 1 of the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier, Season 3, in Chicago, Illinois, USA. 18th June. © Bob Martin for SailGP

Phil Robertson's Canada SailGP Team continues to show its more experienced rivals how it's done in Season 3, with the newcomers sitting on top of the standings after day one of the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier. Packed shorelines and perfectly clear skies welcomed the fleet of high-speed, hydrofoiling F50 catamarans to its freshwater debut on the waters of Lake Michigan.

It was a day that tested the flight controllers to the max. Many battled with the unique challenges of freshwater racing and wind speeds of 32 km/h, struggling to keep their F50s under control. However the day undisputedly belonged to Robertson, who admitted before racing that the unique course would suit his style of racing. Coming back from a fourth in the first race, Robertson perfectly judged both of the next two starts and looked relatively unchallenged to take two race wins.

Robertson said: "It was a good day, it's a wonderful city to be racing in. Conditions today were 10/10 and we made the most of it. We've got some people with great knowledge and skill. It's a great team culture, we're in a good space but we've got a lot to learn, leading up to this event the last few days have been really tough and I guess it fills us with more confidence that when it comes to race day we can push it."

Canada SailGP Team strategist Georgia Lewin-LaFrance said: "It was a pretty amazing day, I absolutely loved sailing on the F50 today. It definitely felt like a tight course, the breakwater created a really interesting starting area that suited Phil's style. I thought there was a good flow of communication onboard today."

Sir Ben Ainslie and his Great Britain team loom large as a threat to snatch the event title from the Canadians as they sit in second place after the first three races - never counting a result outside the top three and just one point behind Canada. New Zealand's Peter Burling looked back to form -with a convincing win in the first race - to complete the podium at the end of the opening day, in third place overall.

Ainslie said: "The racecourse is getting tighter and it's about finding that balance between being aggressive but not pushing it over the edge, it's all about getting in that final three sail off. Today was just box office, the conditions were just perfect, and it was just a really good feeling to see those crowds on Navy Pier."

It was a day to forget for the home team with Jimmy Spithill's U.S. SailGP Team enduring a difficult time on the water to end day one in last place, failing to finish higher than seventh across the three races.

Spithill said: "We're really disappointed. Certainly all the fans deserve better. We just weren't able to execute clean laps, it's as simple as that. There were too many mistakes and too many errors. So we just have to go back and regroup, we've just got to come out and try to get a couple of results and keep ourselves in contention for the season. All the fans are saying keep getting out there, keep fighting so that's good because that's what the team needs. We're going to regroup, learn the lessons and move on."

Current season leader - Tom Slingsby's Australia - got off to a shaky start, posting a seventh in the first race of the day but soon recovered, following up with a second and a third and managing on both occasions to make spectacular gains through the fleet. At the end of day one, Australia is just off the podium in fourth place, to stay in contention to make the final three-boat podium race to decide the event winner tomorrow.

Day two of racing starts at 2.00pm local time and is live on CBS Sports in the United States. Fans around the globe can check out how to watch where they are at SailGP.com/watch. For fans in Chicago, a few final tickets are still available for Sunday but are selling fast, head to SailGP.com for more information. Racing is also always available on SailGP's YouTube channel and app.

T-MOBILE UNITED STATES SAIL GRAND PRIX | CHICAGO AT NAVY PIER // Day Two Racing (incl. Event Final): Sunday, June 19, 2-3.30pm Central Daylight Time

T-MOBILE UNITED STATES SAIL GRAND PRIX | CHICAGO AT NAVY PIER // DAY ONE STANDINGS(after 3 races)

1 // Canada // 27 points
2 // Great Britain // 26 points
3 // New Zealand // 23 points
4 // Australia // 21 points
5 // Denmark // 18 points
6 // Spain // 17 points
7 // Switzerland // 11 points
8 // France // 10 points
9 // United States // 9 points

Individual race results can be found at SailGP.com/results.

SAILGP SEASON 3 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS // (after one event)

1 // Australia // 10 points
2 // Great Britain // 9 points
3 // Canada // 8 points
4 // Denmark // 7 points
5 // United States // 6 points
6 // New Zealand // 5 points
7 // Spain // 4 points
8 // France // 3 points
9 // Switzerland // 2 points

ABOUT SAILGP // SailGP races for a better future, championing a world powered by nature. The world's most exciting race on water, SailGP features national teams battling in short, intense races at iconic stadium-style venues across the globe, building to the grand final - and sailing's top prize of US$1 million. The high-tech, high-speed action features sailing's best athletes racing in identical hydro foiling F50 catamarans, flying at speeds approaching 100 km/h. Visit sailgp.com for more information.

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