Spain SailGP Scores its First Win

As the sailors of the Spanish SailGP squad rise to the top of the SailGP leaderboard with a win in LA, the veteran teams of the series continue to struggle.
SailGP Event 2 Season 4 Los Angeles, USA.
Spain SailGP Team in action on Race Day 2 of the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix at the Port of Los Angeles. Ricardo Pinto for SailGP. Handout image supplied by SailGP Ricardo Pinto/SailGP.

In just his fifth event at the helm of an F50, Spanish driver Diego Botin led his Spain SailGP Team to a stunning victory at the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix. In his first ever event final, which took place at the Port of Los Angeles, Botin delivered a perfect start and was never caught to defeat Nicolai Sehested’s ROCKWOOL Denmark and defending SailGP champions Tom Slingsby’s Australia.

In a staggering finish to the event, Spain had squeaked into the final after winning fleet race four and finishing ninth in fleet race five to edge out Phil Robertson’s Canada for the final spot in the top three with seconds to spare.

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.”

In his fourth event final, Sehested won the start but in the light winds struggled to get on the foils – despite the 29-meter wingsail – and couldn’t hold on at the first mark. Denmark ended up battling with Australia and allowing Spain a healthy lead. But in the light airs and the remaining minutes the fleet compressed and it looked like Denmark might snatch back the lead however Spain managed to hold on and Denmark had to settle for second in what’s been a bright start to Season 4 for the Danish team.

Nicole Van der Velden, strategist of Spain SailGP Team, lifts the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix trophy
Nicole Van der Velden, strategist of Spain SailGP Team, lifts the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix trophy as Spain SailGP Team celebrate winning the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix at the Port of Los Angeles. Adam Warner/SailGP

Sehested said: “It was a frustrating final, I think we ended up spending too much time racing Australia and didn’t ever manage to catch up to Spain as a result. But you know, Diego sailed well, he deserved the win, congratulations to them all, it’s great for the competition.”

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.”

It was a brighter second day for the home team as Jimmy Spithill led the United States to fifth and second place to end the event in a respectable fifth place. Canada just missed out on the final but with seven championship points from Los Angeles has made a good start to Season 4 and sit in fourth in the overall standings.

Emirates Great Britain endured a torrid day on the waters of Los Angeles, starting in contention for the final but logging a ninth and an eighth in the two fleet races on day two to drop to sixth in the event standings.

SailGP fleet on Day 1
The SailGP fleet of 10 boats in action on Race Day 1 of the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix. Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

Winners in Chicago, Peter Burling’s New Zealand never hit its stride in LA to finish the event in seventh, one ahead of a disappointing France with Quentin Delapierre’s team showing little of the form that nearly took them to last season’s Grand Final.

Switzerland battled hard all weekend to end up in ninth while Erik Heil’s Germany made contact with Sebastien Schneiter’s Swiss F50 on day two, receiving a penalty that erased all of its season points.

Australia now leads the championship standings by just one point after two events ahead of Spain and ROCKWOOL Denmark, as exciting new rivalries emerge in Season 4.

Season 4 of SailGP now heads to Europe for the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere summer, kicking off with the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez on September 9 and 10. Details and tickets are available at


1 // Spain // 10 points

2 // ROCKWOOL Denmark // 9 points

3 // Australia // 8 points

4 // Canada // 7 points

5 // United States // 6 points

6 // Emirates GBR // 5 points

7 // New Zealand  // 4 points

8 // France  // 3 points

9 // Switzerland  // 2 points

10 // Germany // -1 points*

*Germany penalized for making contact with Switzerland SailGP Team at Los Angeles event


1 // Australia // 17 points

2 // Spain // 16 points

3 // ROCKWOOL Denmark // 16 points

4 // Canada // 15 points

5 // New Zealand // 14 points

6 // Emirates GBR // 9 points

7 // United States // 8 points

8 // France // 8 points

9 // Switzerland // 5 points

10// Germany // 0 points*

**Germany SailGP Team docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix