Slingsby skippers Australia to SailGP win over Japan

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tom Slingsby skippered Australia to victory over Japan on San Francisco Bay on Sunday in the match-race final of the U.S. debut of the SailGP global league.

The Australians have won the first two regattas in the new series, which is sailed in 50-foot foiling catamarans that are capable of sailing nearly 50 knots (57.5 mph).

Slingsby steered the Aussies to finishes of third and first in Sunday’s first two races to earn a spot in the final against Nathan Outteridge and the Japanese team, which won all three races Sunday before finishing second and fourth Sunday.

“We’re stoked. It’s no secret that we struggled all week,” said Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist who helped Oracle Team USA win the America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay in 2013. “Nathan Outteridge and his team were better, but we kept saying we are going to come back.”

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Australia also beat Japan in the final of the inaugural regatta in Sydney in mid-February.

Outteridge, an Olympic gold and silver medalist and an America’s Cup veteran, said a software issue meant that they were sailing blind around the course.

“As soon as something doesn’t work, it makes it very hard,” said Outteridge, who also is from Australia. “It’s like asking a race car driver to drive a car where the brakes aren’t working. The last race we lost the display software that tells us the time to the start, time to boundaries, shows a diagram of where you are on the course, so we raced the last race blind. Considering all that happened today, to still come second here and still pushing hard is great. Yesterday was the highlight for our team so far.”

Britain won the first race Sunday and finished third in the regatta, followed by the United States, France and China.

Australia leads the overall series with 93 points while Japan has 91. Britain is a distant third with 79, followed by the United States with 68, France 61 and China 60.

The next regatta is in New York on June 21-22, followed by stops in Cowes, England, and Marseille, France. The three-day Marseille regatta will conclude with a $1 million winner-take-all match race between the top two teams for the season championship.

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