Giles Scott has taken the wheel of the Emirates GBR F50 ahead of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council. The double Olympic Gold medallist has taken over the Driver role from Sir Ben Ainslie, who remains Emirates GBR’s CEO. Ainslie previously said stepping down was “one of the toughest decisions” of his sporting career, but it was “time for the next generation to come through”. The UAE event is Scott’s debut as Driver, with racing taking place on Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 January from 10:00 GMT.
The new Emirates GBR line-up took to the water in Abu Dhabi for Official Practice Racing on Friday with Scott as Driver, Hannah Mills OBE as Strategist, Iain Jensen as Wing Trimmer, Luke Parkinson as Flight Controller, Matt Gotrel MBE, Neil Hunter and Nick Hutton as Grinders and Hannah Diamond as Reserve Sailor. Scott made an excellent debut, by nailing the start of the first practice race and leading the fleet throughout to secure the win.
It was light wind on Mina Zayed for the practice racing, with the 29m wing selected by all 10 Teams and crew size reduced from six to four people on-board. Scott described it as a day “with ups and downs”, finishing the three practice races with a result of 1-5-8.
“It was a tricky day, especially with that light wind, but we learned some good lessons today and kept our noses relatively clean,” he said.
“Conditions for racing on Saturday and Sunday will be pretty similar to what we had today, but it wouldn’t take much more wind for us to be up on the foils and ripping around with those big 29m wings on.
“We’ve got plenty to review, some good and some bad, but I’m looking forward to heading back out there tomorrow. I’m stepping into the Driver’s role with an amazing team and hopefully we can turn a few heads this weekend.”
Abu Dhabi has been the first outing for the Emirates GBR F50 with Scott’s name on the hull as the new Driver.
“It’s very cool to see it there in real life,” Scott said.
“The only time I’ve ever had my name on a boat is at Olympic Games’, and SailGP now, so it makes it much more real. It was great to be out there with the Team today, although it was light winds, but we had some good moments. Abu Dhabi is an amazing venue and I’m really looking forward to the weekend ahead.”