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SailGP: NZ SailGP team looking for a big performance in penultimate event in Sydney

by James Rigby/NZSailGP 16 Dec 2021 04:33 PST 17 December 2021
New Zealand SailGP Team co-helmed by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in action during the practice fleet races ahead of Australia Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG. 16 December © Brett Costello/SailGP

The New Zealand SailGP Team will be looking to convert its promising performances into results when the Australia Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG gets underway on the iconic Sydney Harbour on Friday.

The Kiwi outfit has been building momentum over the last two events with a string of impressive races, but a place in the final podium race has proved elusive as the team currently sits in fifth position on the leaderboard with only two events remaining this season.

While a place in the top three at the grand final in San Francisco is still mathematically possible, flight controller Andy Maloney said the team was solely focussed on executing in Sydney.

“In Europe this year we haven’t quite managed to string together five good race results and get into the final podium race so this weekend that’s purely what we’re looking to do,” Maloney said.

“We want to go out and execute five good fleet races and make it into that final round and see what happens from there.

“We’ve got the skills now; we’ve sailed these boats enough this year to have a good baseline for manoeuvres and boat handling. Our straight-line speed is also good enough and now we just need to go out there and execute.”

It is the first time the New Zealand SailGP Team has sailed on Sydney Harbour this week, and with a large spectator fleet and bumper crowds expected as well as a great weather forecast, Maloney can’t wait to get racing.

“It was wicked for Amokura to splash down on Sydney Harbour for the first time yesterday. We got out there and it was a good 12-15 knots ripping around past the Opera House, Shark Island and seeing some epic sights so we’re stoked to be out there. It’s going to be an incredible spectacle for racing tomorrow.

“The conditions look primo. It’s sunny, we’re going to have 12-15 knots on day one and 15-20 knots on day two so it should be super exciting racing and it’s the best breeze for these boats.”

Women’s Pathway Program athlete Liv Mackay will get her first opportunity to race onboard Amokura tomorrow.

Mackay has been part of the New Zealand SailGP Team at every event this season and has shared the duties with Olympian Erica Dawson.

SailGP introduced six athletes onboard all F50s for racing at the Spain Sail Grand Prix in October, with Dawson stepping into the sixth sailor position at that event.

Mackay will now get her chance to assume that role in Sydney, and she said she was looking forward to putting what she’s learned into practice.

“It’s been a really good year for me, I’ve been at all the SailGP events this year with the New Zealand SailGP Team and I’ve been able to learn a lot in different areas. Obviously sailing the boat has been a big focus but also the data and analysis side of things as well, so I can’t wait to get out there and race tomorrow.

“I’ll be in the sixth sailor position which means steering out of manoeuvres and helping in starts. It’s obviously quite full on in the harbour with lots of boats so I’ll be helping out with comms as well.”

Mackay believes the team has all the attributes to score an important victory in Sydney.

“I don’t think we need to do anything particularly different or special, we’ve all got the skills to win so we just need to perform consistently well through the weekend and maintain our levels of intensity.”

This is the first event that will be broadcast at a friendly hour for Kiwi fans this season, with coverage starting at 6pm on Friday on Sky Sport 2.

SailGP Season 2 Schedule

  • December 17-18, 2021 Australia Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG | Sydney
  • March 26-27, 2022 United States Sail Grand Prix | San Francisco (Season 2 Grand Finale)

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