The wind blows over Canada at Chicago SailGP
Phil Robertson’s Canadian team rebounded from a capsize earlier in the week to win two of three fleet races on Saturday and take the lead in the United States Grand Prix sailing in Chicago on Lake Michigan.
While the freshman Canadian team surprised the nine-boat fleet, Jimmy Spithill’s American team had a bad day in front of home fans going 8-9-7 to finish last overall .
Robertson overcame choppy water and unpredictable wind shifts off Navy Pier to win races two and three after Peter Burling sailed Team New Zealand’s 50ft hydrofoil catamaran to win race one. Canada finished fourth in the first race.
Canada scored 27 points to lead Sir Ben Ainslie and Great Britain by one point, with New Zealand four points off the lead.
Tom Slingsby and the two-time defending champions Australia are fourth with 21 points, followed by Denmark with 18 and Spain with 17.
“I guess it gives us more confidence that on race day we can really push it,” said Robertson, a New Zealander who leads his third team in as many seasons in the tech mogul’s World League. Larry Ellison.
After two more fleet races on Sunday, the top three crews will advance to the race on the podium.
Team Canada had impressive starts in all three races. Teams had the choice of approaching the line from inside the harbor or from beyond the harbor wall for a longer swing.
“We took a bit of time to evaluate the different starting options before the race and it was pretty clear that you wanted to start outside the wall and get there fast,” Robertson said.
“We managed to close the gap and come out much faster than everyone else.”
Canada finished third at the season-opening regatta in Bermuda last month.
The American crew struggled the most on Lake Michigan.
“We are really disappointed. Certainly all the fans deserve better,” said Spithill, the 42-year-old Australian skipper of the USA team.
“The team’s main flaw was an inability to run clean laps. It’s as simple as that. There were too many mistakes and too many mistakes.”