Crown Princess Mary showed she hasn’t forgotten her Australian roots as she steered the Aussies to victory over her husband Prince Frederik in an exhibition “royal race’ at the Denmark SailGP.
Mary and Frederik visited the Australian and Danish teams earlier in the weekend before taking to the water themselves in a novelty race on the final day of the event in Copenhagen.
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Mary stepped on board Australia’s F50, while Frederik raced on the Denmark SailGP yacht in a straight drag race in gusty conditions, where the boats reached speeds of 80km/h.
Team Australia’s driver Tom Slingsby made the start before handing the wheel to Mary, who held on to beat her husband’s team by half a second.
The royals were good sports — Frederik congratulated his wife on the victory as Mary was presented with a miniature replica of Australia’s boat as a trophy.
Slingsby, an Olympic gold medallist in sailing, said it was a thrill to have Princess Mary on board to help her secure bragging rights for the country of her birth.
“Crown Prince Frederik and I have sailed together and he is a good mate of mine and I knew he really wanted the win,” Slingsby said.
“But with Princess Mary on board who was born in Australia, we just knew we had to perform and show that the Aussies can’t be beaten in a race and we did just that.
“I started the race and then as soon as we were off I handed the wheel over to Crown Princess Mary.
“She was steering the F50 at over 80km/h and did an amazing job, getting us to the finish 0.5 of a second ahead of the Danish team.”
But Princess Mary’s performance was as good as it got for Australia, who just missed out on qualifying for the final race.
The Australians were just pipped by the French Team, who secured their spot in the final against New Zealand and Denmark.
They were on equal points with the Australians but made the final race because they came second in the third fleet race ahead of Australian in fourth.
Team Australia won the first two seasons of SailGP and Slingsby said the team is starting to feel the pressure of being the hunted in the third edition of the competition, which has been likened to Formula 1 on water.
“Credit to the French. they pushed us out of that final race, which I’m sure was their goal”, Slingsby said.
“We definitely feel like the target on our back is getting bigger, and it was clear during that third fleet race.
“We started that race in flying form and I thought we’ve got this, we can make it to the final, but we got dragged back into the pack and into a dog fight.”
New Zealand won the final race and are now only four points behind Australia in the overall standings.
The Kiwis underachieved in the first two seasons but are finally putting it together, having won the last two events in the UK and Denmark.
“The Kiwis set a new level out there today and they seem to find space in their starts that others can’t,” Slingsby said.
“We are on a downward trend from the past two events and we do need to right the ship and stop the bleeding so to speak and get back to what we know we do well, which is sailing fast and staying out of trouble.”
SailGP continues at the next event at St Tropez on September 10-11.
Sail GP Season 3 leaderboard
1. Australia (36 points)
2. New Zealand (32 points)
3. Denmark (28 points)
4. Canada (27 points)
5. Great Britain (26 points)
6. France (24)
7. United States (19 points)
8. Switzerland (11 points)
9. Spain (11 points)