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Zhik 2022 Choice of Champions LEADERBOARD

SailGP: Double penalty ultimately costs Kiwis a berth in the Final at Cadiz + full replay

by Natalie Fortier & Sail-World.com/nz 25 Sep 15:09 PDT 26 September 2022
Switzerland SailGP Team, Australia SailGP Team and New Zealand SailGP Team in action on Race Day 2 of the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain. 25th Sept 2024 © Ian Walton/SailGP

New Zealand’s hopes of finishing on the podium for the fourth and final European event of the season were dashed today after an eighth and seventh place finish in qualifying fleet races cost them the points needed for a spot in the winner-takes-all final

New Zealand finished sixth in the Spain Sail Grand Prix presented by NEAR and remains second in the Season 3 championship, now four points behind Australia.

It was all to play for on Day 2, with only four points separating New Zealand from front-runners Australia and France. But light air and wavy conditions saw the Kiwis struggle to find consistency in both races, including dropping off the foils in Race 4 to lose vital ground and eventually finish eighth. In Race 5, two penalties cost the Kiwis, who eventually finished seventh behind Australia in sixth and Switzerland in fifth.

Quentin Delapierre’s French team were the big winners in Cadiz, taking their first event win after consistent performances on Saturday and Sunday. Making it into their second consecutive podium race, Jimmy Spithill’s American crew finished second, while defending SailGP champions Australia came in third.

Describing today’s conditions, Driver Peter Burling said, “We definitely really struggled to find some clean lanes and keep the boat going fast.”

But with the Kiwis in second, now four points behind Australia and five ahead of France in third, Burling said while the team was disappointed in the weekend’s results, they remain fully committed to playing the long game across a season with five events still to go.

“We took some risks and unfortunately those didn’t pay off, but we’re very much focused on being the best team we can be in this league at the end of the season, when it matters.”

“It’s definitely a frustrating one but we have an amazing team around us and a lot to go back to review. This weekend gives that extra bit of motivation heading into the non-European leg of the season. We’re in an exciting place, with a lot of things to work on after each event,” Burling said.

Commenting on a week when the competition couldn’t be closer across the fleet, Burling said, “It’s incredible to see another team [France] taking their first event win. I think that really shows you the level the fleet is going to.”

With the European leg of the Season 3 Championship now finished, Amokura will go back in the shed until the next event in Dubai, 12-13 November - a brand new event location for SailGP in Season 3.

Sail-World NZ commentary:

The racing at Cadiz was conducted close to the sea-wall in winds that flicked between 8-10kts. While the breeze was sufficient for foiling, the sea state created by backwash from the sea-wall made foiling difficult at times, compounded by some spectacular errors by the flight controllers.

New Zealand was unable to pull off its signature start technique in both races on Sunday.

In the start of Race 4 they got caught with Series Leader Australia underneath them at the Committee Boat end of the line. After the start the Australians pushed the Kiwis even higher on Leg 1. It was a tactic of mutual self-destruction, allowing the peloton to sail through underneath and both teams were the back markers from the get-go, as the leaders to got away in clear air at the front of the fleet in the 9kt breeze and marginal foiling conditions. The combination of turbulence from the lead boats, marginal foiling conditions, and sea state saw only four boats finished within the 14 minute time limit and the other five, still racing had their places recorded as they were rounding the previous mark.

In Race 5, again sailed in winds of under 10 kts, the Kiwis ran out of runway at the start, had no option but to cross the line at speed with four seconds to go, and were one of the three teams penalised for OCS. At the end of Leg 2, they were again penalised for "barging" at Mark 3, when the Swiss boat obtained mark rounding rights sailing at 17kts on starboard, but elected to do a port rounding. The red hulled Swiss, couldn't keep foiling and dropped back to 7kts in the gybe and crawled to the mark as New Zealand approached on port tack foiling fast for a slingshot rounding. The Kiwis had no real option as they were committed to their line of approach, cut between the Swiss and the mark. There was no contact but the Kiwis were penalised - and it was near impossible to recover and make the cut for the Final from that point. Eventually they finished in 7th place.

The New Zealand team were without the services of their coach, Ray Davies, on the water at Cadiz. The Emirates Team NZ coach is standing in, as sail trimmer on the America's Cup champion's AC40 test boat which started sailing in Auckland this week.

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