: The Aussies make a superb comeback after a disastrous eighth place finish on day one to snatch victory from France and Great Britain in a nail-biting fight to the finish.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The Australia SailGP Team delivered one of the more remarkable victories seen in SailGP, as the Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas enjoyed a highly successful inaugural visit to the Middle East, with large crowds enjoying the action up-close at the Mina Rashid venue.
Tom Slingsby’s Australian team dramatically overtook both France and Great Britain from what had seemed winning positions to storm back onto the winner’s podium in the final race of this weekend’s action.
Australia now leads the championship by nine points from New Zealand, with France one point further back, as the nine participating teams head into the final leg of the season.
The Middle East’s debut appearance on the SailGP calendar proved extremely popular with the UAE’s sailing and sports fans. Over the weekend, thousands packed the shoreline of the Mina Rashid race village, meters away from the action – the closest racecourse of the series. Demand for full hospitality Platinum tickets was so high that SailGP had to significantly increase the original number of planned places, while all technical tours also sold out.
SailGP has already confirmed that it will return to the Middle East in 2023, this time with two events at locations that will be shared in the coming months.
Saeed Hareb, Secretary-General of the Dubai Sports Council, praised the contribution of the Dubai Sail Grand Prix to the Emirate’s growing sports portfolio, saying: “Dubai’s hosting of this global championship shows the UAE’s experience and expertise in organising major sporting global events at the highest level. Our deep-rooted sailing heritage continues to grow, as we further enjoy significant achievements across multiple water sports, ranging from traditional Dhow sailing to speed boating. We are proud of our facilities, beaches and the high standards that have become a feature of all tournaments and events held in the UAE.”
Russell Coutts, CEO of SailGP, commented: “Dubai was the closest final we have ever seen, and the best amphitheater for watching the racing - the fans were closer to the boats than they have ever been in any other venue, and I think everyone would agree it was a tremendous success.”
As part of SailGP’s objective to inspire and educate young people and sailing enthusiasts, the build-up to the racing featured a number of special events. Housed at the all-new P&O Marinas Water Sport & Sailing Academy, and supported by the Dubai Off-Shore Sailing Club (DOSC), SailGP’s inspire programme, with its hands-on stem education approach, was launched to over 500 local students.
Back in 1981, the Dubai Autodrome facility hosted the country’s first-ever Grand Prix as part of the nation’s 10th Anniversary. Forty years later, the mega event is being revived to make Dubai a motorsport destination as well as to unlock doors for local racers.
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Taking place under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan Bin Mabarak Al Nahayan, the event will be contested by 17 teams with some of the top names in the badminton world including Olympic medallists to lead their respective teams.