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SailGP: Kiwis win high octane Final in Singapore

by Richard Gladwell/ 14 Jan 23:17 PST
Liv Mackay, strategist of New Zealand SailGP Team, holds the trophy aloft after winning the final race on Race Day 2 of the Singapore Sail Grand Prix © Bob Martin/SailGP

Despite starting the SailGP Singapore round with a 4pt penalty, the New Zealand SailGP team won a high octane Final on Sunday afternoon.

Unlike the first day of racing, Singapore turned on an unexpected breeze in the opening race of 14kmh (7.5kts), which with the big 29 metre rigs gave the F50 wing-masted foiling catamarans power to burn.

The Final, was sailed in the influence of an advancing rain "squall" with the breeze cracking in at just under 30km/h (15.6kts). The big rigs were sailing in breezes almost double their target strength, and set the scene for an enthralling arm wrestle between the three Finalists, and always with the real chance of a weather induced handling snafu.

On Saturday, the Kiwis started the series, with an end to end win in Race 1, but were penalised at the start of Race 2 for being an early starter.

That dropped them back to last place, but by being able to achieve a rare burst of foiling, the Kiwis sailed around the peloton, and got themselves, from 9th into a handy 5th place.

With the maximum points for a race win, plus a fifth placing, and minus the 4pt penalty for minor collision incurred during practice racing, the Kiwi points concoction boiled down to 12pts and sixth place overall, at the end of Day 1.

Australia's Tom Slingsby was back in a familiar position at the top of the leaderboard with a group of four teams occupying the next bracket, but with only two points of separation on 13 and 14pts. The Kiwis were 2pts in arrears - and it seemed their starting penalty and practice race faux pas would count against them in this standard of competition, and with only two qualifying races remaining.

Switzerland, with Nathan Outteridge on tactics, lay in 7th overall 4pts further back.

The Kiwis, together with the Danish and the Swiss teams hit back on the final day with the Swiss taking their first ever SailGP race win on the shortened first race of Day 2, with New Zealand in second and Denmark third. Going into the fourth and last race in the qualifying round, that result was enough to set the scene for five teams to be for a shot at the three-team final.

Australia still looked comfortably assured of a spot - even though their margin was just 1pt over New Zealand and Denmark, and 2pts over Great Britain.

Over the Singapore cityscape, dark skies gathered ahead of the advancing rain squall, and Race 4 got underway in 12kts of breeze - easy and fast foiling conditions.

Around Mark 3, Denmark led the top trio, with Switzerland having another bottler to be in second place, and the Kiwis third, with Australia fourth. The Brits were back in seventh place and looked unlikely to make the cut for the Final.

With a bit of place shuffling, that was the way the finish played out, with Denmark winning, the Swiss in second and New Zealand third. Australia had done enough to qualify, with the Swiss, the Brits and a lot of other big names not making the cut for the Final.

In the Final, with the breeze now flicking between 13-15kts, New Zealand bolted away for an end to end win, with Denmark second.

Midway through the race, Australia looked to have an outside chance of getting back into the action, but muffed a tack, the effect of which was to open up the margin between themselves, the Danes and the Kiwis - who were now far enough in front to be able to get away with the loosest of covers. They crossed the line with a 21sec margin over Denmark and 34sec over Australia.

Understandably the Kiwis were elated with their win, which gets them into contention to make the cut for the Final in San Francisco - an achievement which was looking rather remote at the start of the regatta - after they made life more difficult for themselves with a 4pt penalty from the Practice Racing.

As an interesting sidebar to the event, of the America's Cup team helmsmen in Singapore SailGP, Peter Burling (ETNZ) was second overall after four races. Tom Slingsby (American Magic) was third on the leaderboard, Ben Ainslie (INEOS Britannia) was fifth, Jimmy Spithill (Luna Rossa) finished seventh, and Quentin Delapierre (K-Challenge) was 8th overall. Nathan Outteridge (ETNZ) was in fourth overall as tactician for Switzerland.

The next SailGP series is in Australia [Sydney, February 18-19], followed by New Zealand [Christchurch 18-19 March], and then the Final in San Francisco [May 7-8].

For full results - Event and Race

SailGP Singapore - Videos

  • Full Replays, Days 1 & 2;
  • Pre Regatta Media Conference;
  • Tech Walk;
  • Racing on the Edge - Rebuilding Champions - Parts 1 & 2

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