24 July 2023
Spain’s Diego Botin and his crew overcame light wind conditions by minimising manoeuvres and sailing the shortest distance to trounce ROCKWOOL Denmark and Australia in front of sell-out shoreside crowds.
While ROCKWOOL Denmark made the best start, it was Spain which popped up on the foils first to secure the all-important inside angle to Mark 1. But the race was far from over. It was a nerve-racking fight to the finish, with both Australia and Nicolai Sehested’s Danish crew also rising onto the foils to chase down Spain’s lead.
Despite this, it was Spain that demonstrated masterful tactical nous – performing just nine manoeuvres to ROCKWOOL Denmark’s 12 and Australia’s 16.
The win came after Spain scraped into the Final with a one-point margin over Canada – that means the team managed to convert its first Final into a first event win in four seasons.
It follows a period of upheaval and uncertainty for the young crew – with former flight controller Diego Botin only becoming driver in February and racing in the role for the first time in Sydney last season.
Speaking on board the Spanish F50 shortly after crossing the finish line, Botin said:
“This is amazing, we have been through some quite hard times as a team lately, and we really didn’t expect this to happen, we are behind the other teams in some areas, but we got in a good position. It’s such a small course anything can happen and we managed to pull the win off, it’s a huge motivation for the team and we are just so proud of ourselves.
“We are looking forward to the future,” he added.
Tom Slingsby remarked the joy of the Spanish team took him back to his first season in SailGP and he wasn’t surprised they performed so well.
Slingsby said: “I’m just really excited for them actually, they’re just a great group of people.
“I remember out first win and there’s just so much elation around that but I saw them training and I said to our coach ‘watch out for them this week, they are looking good’. They are sailing well, they are getting better and better and it’s exciting to see another contender up there.”
The second day of the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix played host to capricious wind conditions that put pressure on the wing trimmers to harness the power of the largest 29m wing.
Spain came into Race Day 2 in fourth overall and kicked the day off with a bang – winning the fourth fleet race by shutting out Season 3 champions Australia.
But it wasn’t smooth sailing for the team in the final fleet race of the event. The Spanish picked up two penalties for infringing France while Canada rose through the ranks to threaten their spot in the Final. But Spain managed to recover two positions in the nick of time – scraping into the three-boat, shootout by just one-point.
Elsewhere, it was a devastating day for Emirates GBR, which entered the second day in a commanding second place position to pick up a 9th and 8th place finishes and crash out of the event in 6th place.
Meanwhile, Season 3 runner up New Zealand was not on form all weekend and finished the event in an uncharacteristic 6th overall, while Quentin Delapierre’s France slipped down to 7th.
Home favourites the United States had an improved showing, picking up a second-place finish in the final fleet race to finish fifth overall.
The refreshed Championship standings see Australia move into the top spot with 17 points – but with only a one point margin ahead of Spain and ROCKWOOL Denmark.
The 10-strong F50 fleet will next meet at the France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez on 9 & 10 September.