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SailGP: Rejigged Kiwi team builds confidence after three days of practice in Italy

by James Rigby/NZSailGP 3 Jun 16:53 PDT 4 June 2021
New Zealand SailGP Team helmed by interim skipper Arnaud Psarofaghis in action during a practice session ahead of Italy SailGP, Event 2, Season 2 in Taranto, Italy. 02 June . Photo: Thomas Lovelock for SailGP. Handout image supplied by SailGP © Thomas Lovelock/SailGP

The New Zealand SailGP Team continues to make significant strides with just one day of practice races remaining before the first-ever Italy Sail Grand Prix (June 5-6).

The unique natural harbour of Taranto provided the perfect backdrop for the adrenaline-filled practice racing as the New Zealand SailGP Team spent five hours on the water refining its skills in light breeze.

Flight controller Andy Maloney said: “It was a good day out there today. We did some practice racing as well as a lot of training before and after it. The most pleasing thing was the steps forward we made in our manoeuvres. After debriefing last night we had some good points we wanted to put forward today in similar conditions and I think in our warm up we showed that we’d made some good gains.”

Following three consecutive days of training, Maloney believes the team is progressing nicely for the second SailGP event of the season.

“We’ve been building on the last couple of days and definitely on Bermuda as well which is really pleasing. Our base knowledge in these boats as a team is growing and every day we get here in different conditions to what we had in Bermuda. We’re learning so much and making massive strides forward each day which is cool to see.”

Interim recruits Arnaud Psarofaghis (skipper) and New Zealand Olympic sailor Jason Saunders (wing trimmer) wasted little time getting up to speed on the F50 and Maloney said he was impressed with how quickly they had learned the ropes.

“That first day was pretty windy and they handled the boat well. Now they’re getting some nice conditions in the F50 and they’re really showing how quickly they’re adapting to the boat.

“The practice racing was the first time for the new team members onboard and the rest of the team hasn't done many races either so we’re just learning a lot the whole time. A few issues on board meant we were a little bit rushed going into a couple of pre-starts so that didn’t help but we managed to get around the track and learn a lot and we’ll go into a debrief now and take heaps away from it.”

Joining the debrief will be skipper Peter Burling and wing trimmer Blair Tuke who have been providing input and analysis remotely as the duo prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“We’ll have the kiwi-based crew join in on that call and right now they’re looking up a couple of things for us on the Grafana data viewer which is awesome,” Maloney said. “It takes a bit of the load off us and lets us refresh a little bit and re-set before the debrief and I’m sure they’ll come with some really strong points for us to look into.”

While the New Zealand SailGP Team is still comparatively inexperienced on the F50 in a fleet featuring the world’s best sailors, Maloney is backing his team to perform.

“We’re still very new to the fleet but I think on the day we can really do anything if we sail well so we’ll be looking to put our best foot forward and keep improving each race. The races are rapid fire so you don’t get much time to learn in between so that’s going to be a really big focus for us to learn as much as we can in those five minutes and put it forward into the next race.

“I think going into any of the races out there if you’re not going into it with the mindset of trying to win the race then you’re going to get left behind so that will be our mindset for sure and if we have a few results in the top few we’ll be really stoked but it would be awesome to win a few races.” Female development athlete Liv Mackay was onboard the F50 for the full duration of today’s sailing and said she was pleased with the team’s performance.

“Today went really well. We got at least 10 practice starts in which was awesome. I think the new team is working really well together so to get that time and distance and figuring it all out was a really great opportunity.

“There were seven boats out there today and just having them all coming into the start in the last three minutes makes a huge difference. I think the training today will set us up well for race day.”

You can watch all the action live from the Italy Sail Grand Prix on Sky Sport from 11.30pm NZT on Saturday 5 June. For full viewing details visit

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