Phil Robertson left newcomer Team Canada to a surprise lead after the first three fleet races of SailGP’s season-opening regatta in Bermuda on Saturday.
Robertson led his red-and-white foiling catamaran to take Britain’s Sir Ben Ainslie 25 points to 23 to finish second, first and fifth in the nine-boat fleet on the turquoise waters of the Great Sound. Ainslie had a strong start by winning the first and third races.
Tom Slingsby took two-time defending champions Australia to third place with 21 points despite just a top-three finish. France was fourth with 20 points and Team USA was fifth with 16.
After being fired by Team Spain on the eve of the Season 2 finale in San Francisco in late March, Robertson of New Zealand took over the Canadian team.
“The team is excited, but the challenge for us is to try to keep expectations low because conditions are ideal for either of these boats, so tomorrow anything can happen,” said Robertson, who has been on his way to several seasons. With the third team. “But ultimately you have to be extremely happy with the day that we had. In tough situations, we always come out on top and do some great work on the racecourse.”
Slingsby said he was impressed by Robertson.
“It will be exciting to see what he can do,” said Slingsby, who claimed SailGP’s $1 million, winner-take-all prize in each of the first two seasons. “He’s got a new team, it’s privately funded, the owners love him and he’s not under any pressure. The standard has gone up a level and anyone who can find some consistency in this area is very will do well.”
Ainslie was leading Robertson near the fourth gate in Race 2, but had poor rounding and slowed down dramatically, allowing Canada to take the lead. Ainslie also received a penalty near the finish and finished eighth.
“It’s really no surprise to see previous top teams like Australia go back because the racing is so tight and honestly the standard is so high,” Ainslie said. “We are all top teams now. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs and there’s going to be a consistent win and that’s what we want. ,