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SailGP: NZ second in heart-stopping Grand Final in San Francisco

by Natalie Fortier NZSailGP 8 May 2023 21:12 PDT
NZSailGP Team - Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco, USA - May 2023 © Bob Martin/SailGP

The New Zealand SailGP Team came away second in a nail-biting grand final race on the iconic San Francisco Bay.

Defending SailGP champions Australia cemented their third season win, finishing just inches ahead of New Zealand, while Emirates Great Britain rounded out the season podium in third.

Driver Peter Burling said the crew was “gutted” with the final result, which saw the Kiwis nearly overtake the Australians on the final reach of the course, but was proud of his team’s efforts across an “incredible season” with SailGP.

“It was so close and absolutely gutted we couldn’t get the job done in the end, but I’m feeling incredibly proud of the team and how far we’ve come,” Burling said.

New Zealand finished sixth and seventh in the first two fleet races of the day, securing the points needed to compete in the final alongside Australia and Emirates Great Britain, who were first and second in the weekend standings, respectively.

“We definitely battled hard, right in the middle of the pack for most of this weekend,” said Burling. “It’s been one of those events where we feel like we’ve been sailing the boat well but not a lot has rolled in our favour. In the end, we did a good job consolidating things to get through to the final, and putting together our best race when it mattered the most”

Wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: “We got a pretty good start to the final race and were neck and neck with the Australians heading into mark one. From there, we fell a bit further behind but the team stuck together, stayed strong and focused to get incredibly close at the finish,” said Tuke.

“We know the whole season comes down to one race and it was always going to be decided in one or two moments. Today, things didn't quite go our way but I’m incredibly proud of the whole group. This season has been epic - we’ve come leaps and bounds from where we were, so you have to be proud of that, while today may be disappointing,” Tuke said.

After claiming their third SailGP title, driver Peter Burling said, “You’ve gotta hand it to the Aussies. Particularly in San Fran, they tend to do well and really excel on the 24-metre wing and high-speed boards. They’ve been sailing great all weekend.”

With the start of Season 4 only weeks away (16-17 June), strategist Liv Mackay said the Kiwi crew were all eyes ahead: “Reflecting on a year ago, it feels like we’re only getting better, and heading into Chicago to start the next season off strong. You don’t lose any momentum with SailGP.”

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