Slingsby fights for survival as Scott puts Britain in lead at Canada Sail Grand Prix | Sport


SAN DIEGO (AP) — Three-time SailGP defending champion Tom Slingsby of Team Australia rebounded from two poor performances to win the third fleet race and remain in contention at the inaugural ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix Halifax on Saturday.

The Australians are sixth in the fleet of 10 identical 50-foot foil catamarans heading into the final two fleet races on Sunday, with the top three boats moving into the podium race.

Giles Scott captained Emirates Great Britain to first place with results of 3-5-2 and 23 points. Season leader Peter Burling of New Zealand was second with 22 points and Nicolai Sehested of ROCKWOOL Denmark was third with 21 points. Canada and Spain each have 20 points and the Australians and France each have 18 points.

Slingsby showed how quickly things can change, especially on a day of changeable, gusty weather. The Australians finished eighth and sixth in the first two races before crossing the line right at the start, establishing themselves in an excellent position and then finishing ahead of Great Britain and Canada.

“It felt like we were battling all day,” said Slingsby. “It felt like we sailed the boat reasonably well today, but we just weren't in sync with the transitions and that's my responsibility. We have the talent, we have the skills, we just need to put it all together. It was nice to finish well today. It gives us a chance to get into the final on day two and that's what we needed.”

Slingsby got into a “dog fight” in the second race with fellow Australian Nathan Outteridge, captain of the Swiss team. Slingsby said Outteridge made several aggressive maneuvers that forced the two teams into a match race, which the Australians perceived as sabotage.

“We were a bit unlucky today and had a few bad situations in race two,” said Slingsby. “I was pretty frustrated with my old mate Nath. He luffed us about 15 times in 20 seconds. He could have gone straight to the finish and held his position, but instead he got into a dogfight with us to push us back in the fleet.”

Slingsby defeated Outteridge, then captain of Team Japan, in the season's first two $1 million winner-take-all championships.

Spaniard Diego Botin won the first race, while Denmark won the second race.

The newly formed Team USA finished tenth in all three races.

Burling, the reigning two-time America's Cup champion and three-time Olympic medalist, went into this regatta as the season's leader, 14 points ahead of his rival Slingsby from across the Tasman Sea. Spain are one point behind in third place and the Danes are a further seven points behind in fourth.

After Halifax, there are two regattas left in the fourth season, with the top three boats reaching the $2 million Grand Final on July 14 in San Francisco, where the winner takes all.

Slingsby, an Olympic gold medalist and former America's Cup winner, captained the Australians to the first three season championships in tech baron Larry Ellison's global league, which offered a $1 million prize to the winner. This year, the prize money has been doubled.

Bernie Wilson has been covering sailing for AP since 1991.

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