Thousands of people lined the front at Cowes and Gurnard as Australia won the European leg of of SailGP.
The Australia SailGP Team dominated the field in extreme conditions with a sweep of the races while becoming the first crew to break the 50-knot speed barrier in sail racing.
Meanwhile, Rome Kirby’s U.S SailGP Team capsized in dramatic fashion and Dylan Fletcher and the British team took a violent nose dive resulting in boat damage that prevented them from finishing racing.
The stakes were higher than ever on the first and only day of racing in Cowes, as the last chance for teams to put points on the leaderboard before the final in Marseille, where the SailGP championship trophy and $1 million awaits the season winner.
In front of a packed crowd at the SailGP Race Village at Egypt Point, Slingsby set a new sail racing speed record, clocking in at 50.0 knots while crossing the finish line of the first race.
It marked the first time in sail racing history that a boat broke the 50-knot speed barrier.
The Australia team, who only had a couple hours of practice in its boat this week, made a deal with the French, who loaned the Aussies their boat in exchange for some training with Slingsby onboard.
“We were on the start today with a couple of hours sailing compared to a lot more sailing from a lot of the other teams. I was definitely worried.
“It was hairy out there. It might have looked easy, but it definitely wasn’t. We just did our best and concentrated on ourselves. We heard other teams were having issues and it could have so easily happened to us.”
The United States SailGP Team capsized within 30 seconds of the start of race one, but surprisingly was able to compete in the rest of the day’s racing with quick assistance from the SailGP tech team. Despite a tough day, Kirby’s American team was able to climb the leaderboard for third place overall.
The Great Britain SailGP Team wasn’t as lucky. On the penultimate leg of the first race, the team dug its bow into the water, sending flight controller Chris Draper tumbling over Stuart Bithell in a dramatic crash. No injuries were sustained, however, the boat was too damaged to sail for the remainder of the day. Fletcher was massively disappointed, having had high hopes at his home event after breaking the 50-knot barrier and winning two of two practice races earlier in the week.
“We were sat there before the start of the racing watching the floods of crowd come in, it was amazing to see all that support and we were really looking forward to going racing.
“Then, when we went bow down and that was us, game over for the day. We are so disappointed for ourselves but also the fans that came out to support us.”