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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Grudge match erupts between the Aussies and Kiwis for the Chicago podium

by Australia SailGP Team 17 Jun 2023 21:09 PDT
New Zealand SailGP Team, Canada SailGP Team and Australia SailGP Team sail past the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse during the final race on Race Day 2 of the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago © Bob Martin/SailGP

The Aussies and Kiwis had the opportunity for a re-match at the podium final of the Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier, but it was Burling's New Zealand crew that took the win on Lake Michigan.

Chicago, known as the 'windy city', delivered unprecedented light air conditions for the final day of racing which forced all SailGP teams to race in the four-up configuration. Australia's Tom Slingsby had Kyle Langford onboard as Wing Trimmer, Tash Bryant as Strategist, with Kinley Fowler taking the challenging position of managing both the Flight Controller and Grinder positions on the flying roo.

However the Australian's relentless pursuit of victory and ability to innovate in little-to-no wind propelled them to the forefront of the competition, overcoming an early penalty in the final fleet race to secure a seat in the podium final.

Tom Slingsby said: "It's actually way more stressful racing in these light conditions, because you can't see the water on the course so you are drifting around there just hoping for that miracle gust of wind, it's a bit of a lottery."

The Australians met with the Kiwis and Candians on the start line, with the race coming down to which team could hunt the wind, with even the smallest of gains proving crucial to keep team's momentum in the reduced four leg race.

The final leg of the race became a two boat slow motion sprint to the finish line between the Aussies and the Kiwis, with the nail biting tension clearly visible on board for both teams. Burling managed to take the lead to win the event, with Slingsby's crew coming in a close second place.

Tom Slingsby said: "Pete was really aggressive in defending the pin-end of the start line from us which allowed them to get the best start and take the lead. I've gotta say good on them, they deserved the win.

"Obviously we wanted to win but we are happy with a second place in the first event of the season. If us and the Kiwis continue in first and second battling away for the season to that Grand Final we will be happy," Slingsby added.

The New Zealand Team's victory in Chicago has marked an exciting beginning of SailGP Season 4 and signals that the rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwis is just getting started. SailGP will remain in the United States for the next event taking place in Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix on July 22-23.

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