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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

SailGP: Kiwis out of Saint-Tropez event, with nearest available wingsail in NZ.

by Richard Gladwell/ 10 Sep 05:24 PDT 11 September 2023
New Zealand SailGP Team members carry the damaged wing back to the team hangar on Race Day 1 of the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez, France. Sept 9, 2023 © Ian Walton/SailGP

On Sunday morning Central European Time, it was confirmed that the New Zealand SailGP entry which had been lying second overall, would not be participating on the second day of the event.

It has also been confirmed that the League does not have any spare wingsail in Europe and that one will have to come from New Zealand. The next regatta starts in 11 days.

In an update on the damage situation and outcome as it affects the racing, SailGP advised:

Unfortunately, due to the extent of the damage to the New Zealand SailGP Team wingsail - which happened after the final race of the opening day at the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez - the team won't be able to participate in racing today.

The safety of everyone involved in SailGP is our top priority. A thorough investigation is under way as to why the wing came out of alignment which caused the structural failure to happen. We will be working hard to determine what happened and how to prevent future occurrences. In the meantime, while we determine the facts we will not use the 29m wing configuration.

SailGP will be doing everything it can to ensure that the New Zealand team is on the start line for the Rockwool Sail Grand Prix in Taranto.

SailGP Taranto starts on September 23, or 11 days away. In the past SailGP, there are normally two practice days ahead of the first race day.

In a story published on the SailGP website the League commented "after damage assessments were carried out overnight, the Tech Team has said the damage is too significant for the team to continue racing".

The story also confirmed comments made on social media that SailGP's spare wing is currently "located in New Zealand, there is no spare equipment on the ground to get the Kiwi F50 up and running in time for today's racing."

"This is due to a backlog of wing repairs after a lightning strike in Singapore and weather event in Sydney destroyed two wings last season." That was back in January and February 2023 - six months ago. And around the time of the following Christchurch event, another story on the SailGP site lauding the wingsail repair effort, which got all nine teams sailing said: "The result is that both the 18m and 24m wing configurations will be ready for racing in Christchurch - with the 29m wings expected to return to the circuit in Season 4."

The latest SailGP release continues: "A new wing was taken from the in-build 11th F50 and distributed to New Zealand and Canada and another replacement wing has just been completed in New Zealand. The aim now is to ship that wing to Taranto to enable New Zealand to race in the Rockwool Italy Sail Grand Prix on September 23-24.

"Speaking about the incident after racing, New Zealand driver Peter Burling said he heard 'an almighty bang' before the wing 'unraveled'."

"The cause of the wing collapse remains unknown, but investigations are under way."

In an interview broadcast as part of the Day 2 coverage, skipper Peter Burling was adamant that the failure was not the fault of the NZ team.

Unlike other international sailing events SailGP offers redress, which means the Kiwis will finish Saint-Tropez with their current score. In a normal yachting even an mishap such as this structural failure, which was not the fault of the NZ team, would usually result in the awarding of average points for the series based on races sailed on Day 1.

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