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SailGP: Frustrating light airs and start line errors work against Kiwis..More breeze for Day 2

by James Rigby 9 Oct 16:16 PDT 10 October 2021
Spain SailGP Team co-helmed by Florian Trittel and Phil Robertson, New Zealand SailGP Team co-helmed by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in action on Race Day 1 at Spain SailGP, Event 6, Season 2 in Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain. 9th October © Bob Martin/SailGP

The New Zealand SailGP Team has it all to do on day two of the Spain Sail Grand Prix after a frustrating opening race day in Cádiz.

The Kiwis finished fifth, sixth and sixth in today’s three fleet races to end the day in seventh overall.

It leaves Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s team with a big task ahead in tomorrow’s two fleet races to make it into the winner-takes-all final podium race.

The largest spectator fleet in the history of SailGP turned out to watch the adrenaline-filled racing on a stunning day in Cádiz, with more than 1,400 boats surrounding the racecourse and thousands of fans lining the sea wall.

In light, shifty conditions which saw the big 29-metre wing employed along with the light air boards, the first two fleet races featured the full complement of six athletes including the Women’s Pathway Programme athletes, while the final race was sailed with just four athletes as the breeze dropped off.

Penalties for crossing the line [SWNZ: fractionally] early in the first two fleet races proved costly as the New Zealand SailGP Team struggled to recover.

The team was also disadvantaged in the first race by the time limit being reached before it crossed the line, which saw the result taken from its position at the final mark rather than the finish line.

[SWNZ: NZSailGP would have finished third in Race 1 under conventional sailing rules. With a 15 minute time limit for the race, only two teams finished within the stipulated period, the kiwis finished 10secs outside the 15 minute race limit, in third place and 90 seconds after Britain and Australia who near-dead heated for the race win. At first the New Zealand team was shown as finishing seventh in the race, losing their third place, and then upgraded to 5th place. The same thing happened in the third race, when USA was the only team to finish inside the 15 minute limit. Australia was within 50 metres of the finish line and 80 seconds astern of USA. NZL was lying in 5th on the water when the 15minute time limit was called, and was relegated to 7th in the eight boat fleet. ]

Driver Peter Burling said: “It was quite a frustrating day for us as a team. We got timed out of the first race after having a good second lap to lose a couple of points and we got two OCSs [on course sides] so we didn’t make life easy for ourselves, but we really struggled to move forward in the fleet as well and we didn’t get any lucky breaks.

“That said, tomorrow is another day and we’re looking forward to getting back out in some more breeze on the high-speed boards with the smaller wing so it should be good fun.”

Wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: “It was a pretty disappointing day for us. We didn’t manage to execute in any of the three races so we sit pretty low down on the leaderboard after day one.

“It’s frustrating because we’ve been going well in training and building momentum between the events but we didn’t capitalise on that today.”

Erica Dawson was onboard with the New Zealand SailGP Team for the first time in racing today in the sixth sailor position, and she relished the experience.

“It was cool to race on the boat, to get involved and to have some responsibilities so I really enjoyed it,” Dawson said.

“When we were six-up I was steering out of the manoeuvres and when we were four-up I was on the handles doing the grinding and the odd jib trim.

“The results were definitely frustrating. It’s not where we want to be but we’re looking forward to tomorrow and we feel like it’s going to be our day.”

Higher winds are forecast for race day two, resulting in a change to the 24-metre wing along with the high-speed boards and rudders.

Tuke said: “Compared to some of the other events we’ve done recently where you take the learnings from day one into day two, we’ll switch back to taking the learnings from the last time we were in big breeze which was in Aarhus. The configuration of the boat is changing a lot so it’s not so much about building on today. We’ll have to come out swinging tomorrow to secure a place in the final.”

Burling said: “Tomorrow is all about trying to get a couple of low scores. We’ll debrief well tonight and make a good plan as to how we want to execute but it’s a really important day for us.”

You can watch a replay of Spain Sail Grand Prix Day 1 at 12.30pm NZT on Sky Sport Select. Race Day 2 will be televised live at 3.30am on Monday morning, followed by a replay at 12.30pm.

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