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SailGP: Kiwi F50 to be repaired by SailGP Technologies in NZ, after lightning strike

by Natalie Fortier 27 Jan 00:52 PST 27 January 2023
New Zealand SailGP F50 has sustained damage to onboard electronic and hydraulic systems after a lightning strike in the SailGP Singapore Regatta © Ian Walton/SailGP

The race continues to get New Zealand SailGP Team F50 Amokura back on the startline for the first SailGP regatta to be held in New Zealand - following a lightning strike on the second and final day of racing in Singapore.

Amokura departs Singapore on the 27 January, bound not for Sydney shores as originally hoped, but for SailGP Technologies in Warkworth. There the boat will undergo full inspection, stress testing and repair. The decision follows internal confirmation of significant hydraulic and electrical damage, the full extent of which could not be evaluated on site.

Reflecting on the incident, New Zealand SailGP Team Wing Trimmer and co-CEO Blair Tuke said, “Since [the strike] we’ve realised that the damage to Amokura is pretty significant. Quite quickly we discovered that all of the electronics on board were fried. On a lot of the hydraulic components - especially the titanium parts - you could see where the current had been, leaving scouring.”

“Over the coming days in Singapore, more and more issues started to crop up and that’s when the decision was made to bring Amokura back to Aotearoa. Very thankfully everyone on board the boat was okay, and that’s absolutely the most important part,” said Tuke.

SailGP Tech Team Director Brad Marsh said, “The reason to bring [Amokura] back to New Zealand is that we have the facilities and resources here to do the investigation that we need to do.”

“In the marine industry, boats do get struck by lightning regularly - but not often a boat as complex and advanced as the F50. So, we are a little unsure of exactly the testing we will need to do but we know we need to put it under structural load testing, which is a test we do for every new boat, we will do some thermal imaging, tap testing and some core testing.”

“It’s going to be a relatively compressed schedule to do all this - a full electronic refit, hydraulic refit and all new components and parts - in order to get Amokura down to Lyttelton and ready for sailing,” said Marsh.

With the SailGP Technologies team set to be hard at work on Amokura, the New Zealand SailGP Team will race on boat six in Sydney - formerly the Japan boat, which has been used by the Canada SailGP Team throughout Season 3. Canada will finally get behind the wheel of its own F50, boat 10, which was recently finished in Warkworth and is now en route to Australia, where it will join the rest of the fleet for fitout and commissioning next month.

Commenting on the one-design fleet that makes such a shuffle possible, Blair Tuke said, “One of the cool things about SailGP is that when you’re lining up, you know you’re racing against a boat that’s exactly the same as yours.”

“We have in the past sailed other teams’ boats in training days - it’s been awhile since we’ve done that, but you can hardly notice the difference other than some of the visual references,” Tuke said.

The KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix begins in just three weeks on the iconic Sydney Harbour, unfolding over two action-packed days of racing 18-19 February 2023. Then it's only one month to go until the New Zealand SailGP Team’s home debut on Whakaraupo, Lyttelton Harbour in March.

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