Light wind racing saw the new extended wingsails come to the fore as teams battled to stay on the foils in the second SailGP regatta of 2021

It was a weekend dominated by light winds as the SailGP fleet took to the waters of Taranto, Italy for their second regatta of 2021.

Even with the new wingsail extension, which was introduced to the class of foiling F50 catamarans this season to boost performance in light winds, the racing was very much a case of hunting the best pressure on the racecourse to keep hydrofoiling.

One thing is for certain, this was a much improved spectacle as compared with the light wind venues of the first season, the new wingsail extensions doing enough to keep the boats foiling for the most part in the very light wind conditions.

Ultimately it was Nathan Outteridge’s Japan SailGP Team that reigned supreme with a massive win in the final podium race. Spain finished in second place in front of Jimmy Spithill’s U.S team to move to the top of the SailGP Championship leaderboard following the opening two events of the season.

Overcoming disappointment in the first event of the series in Bermuda, Outteridge drove his team straight into the weekend’s podium race and on to victory. It was an intense battle in the final race – for which only the top three boats from the weekend compete – with Phil Robertson’s Spanish team and an on form U.S. team.

Spithill was leading for much of the race, but was forced to pull out of the final race with a broken rudder after they got too high out of the water during a mark rounding, and crashed off the foils forcing the damage.

Outteridge manoeuvre during SailGP racing. Photo: SailGP

Outteridge said: “It’s really nice to win here. We knew that the result in Bermuda didn’t reflect our performance and obviously that was unfortunate. We sailed really well all the time here and it’s just been fantastic to have Francesco [Bruni] onboard – not just on the boat but the chase boat as well helping us with coaching – so to deliver a home win for him is just fantastic.”

Downsizing the crew between the fleet races and the final podium race to three athletes – a move used variously by a number of teams at different points through the weekend – due to the light winds meant Japan team flight controller Bruni would be repositioned onto the chase boat, but the win in Bruni’s home country in front of cheering crowds was a fairytale ending to his weekend.

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Bruni said: “It’s been an incredible event. We are super happy, it couldn’t get any better! We deserved some luck in the last race. I think we all sailed very well during the week, especially Nathan, Chris [Draper], and Tim [Morishima]. It’s really a prize for how good we sailed all week.

“It’s been unbelievable to see so many people on the water, and along the shore watching and cheering, especially for us, for me, and for the whole event. It’s been a great success.”

The Japan team now sit third on the season championship leaderboard with 14 points, with fellow finalists Spain moving into first place. Great Britain, winners of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, are in second place despite a disappointing sixth-placed finish in Taranto under interim driver Paul Goodison, who has stepped in for an absent Ben Ainslie.

Sunday’s two fleet races were won by New Zealand and Japan respectively – the debut race win for Season 2 newcomers New Zealand with Arnaud Psarofaghis in the driving seat for the first time, while Peter Burling and Blair Tuke embark on defending their Olympic title.

Rounding out the event standings were New Zealand in fourth, Denmark in fifth, Great Britain in sixth, France – who made the podium in Bermuda – placed seventh, and Australia taking eighth spot.

The next leg of SailGP will be in Plymouth, U.K on July 17-18 as the third event on the global league’s championship calendar.

Italy Sail Grand Prix:

1: Japan
2: Spain
3: United States
4: New Zealand
5: Denmark
6: Great Britain
7: France
8: Australia

SailGP Season Championship:

1: Spain – 16 pts
2: Great Britain – 15 pts
3: Japan – 14 pts
4: New Zealand – 13 pts
5: France – 12 pts
6: Australia – 12 pts
7: United States – 11 pts
8: Denmark – 11 pts

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