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Action and intrigue at every turn as Cádiz readies for historic SailGP return

by SailGP 13 Oct 2023 08:34 PDT 14-15 October 2023
Nina Curtis, strategist of Australia SailGP Team, sits between Peter Burling, Co-CEO and driver of New Zealand SailGP Team, and Phil Robertson, driver of Canada SailGP Team, at a pre-event press conference ahead of the Spain Sail Grand Prix © Jon Buckle for SailGP

New Zealand welcomed back; Emirates GBR aim for three-peat; and Women's Pathway celebrated at championship's first-ever 100 percent clean energy on-water event

Anticipation for the fifth event of SailGP Season 4 is arguably at the highest it has ever been for the world's most exciting race on water - with a host of introductions, re-introductions, changes and celebrations all coming together to set up a tantalizing, not-to-be-missed weekend in the vibrant and colorful city of Cádiz, in the region of Andalucía.

Returning to Cádiz for a record third time, the race for the championship will be back to a full ten F50s with the arrival of a wing for Peter Burling's New Zealand team while Sir Ben Ainslie's Emirates GBR will be aiming to carve out its own piece of history looking for a third successive win - something not achieved by any team since Tom Slingsby's Australia in the last three events of Season 2.

Ahead of this fifth event, just six points separate frontrunners Australia with Emirates GBR and this weekend's hosts Spain in equal second. Home driver Diego Botín is keen to give the team's fans plenty to cheer - but remains level headed on his expectations with the sheer amount of excitement and anticipation from all ten teams.

Botín said: "We want to give our best performance in Cádiz and for everyone coming to see us, we will push super hard and see where that gets us. We will feel the push from Cádiz and it will be an amazing weekend. It's a hard thing to predict, there are many good things in these boats - we are not the team with the highest chances to win here but anything can happen."

A statement that the nine other nations will take notice of is that Cádiz ranks among the favorite venues for Australia - who is still searching for their first win of Season 4 yet lead the overall standings.

This is particularly true for strategist Nina Curtis, who is back on board with the team after maternity leave, and is celebrating two years of SailGP's ground-breaking Women's Pathway and was the first female athlete to win an event in the championship in Cádiz in Season 2.

Curtis said: "Cádiz is probably my favorite event because that was when female athletes started to sail on board the boats and it is particularly memorable for us because we took that win two years ago. I think as a team we're proud of our consistency this season - that's been something we've been working on - however we're itching for a win and it would be exciting to take a win here."

Adding to the anticipation and intrigue ahead of this weekend's racing is undoubtedly the return of New Zealand, after the structural failure of its wingsail two events ago in Saint-Tropez last month. The team was awarded an automatic fifth-place finish as part of a revised redress policy for Taranto and were cleared to compete in Spain after a successful first day of training.

Burling said: "We're incredibly excited to be back. It's been quite a different journey for us as a team but to have a wing again and be back racing is something we're really excited for. There's been a lot of talk about the redress policy, but from our point of view we're looking forward to moving on and we know we will have to put together some really solid performances together to get back to the top of the leaderboard."

As well as Emirates GBR chasing history on the water, the Cádiz event will achieve its own piece - through its partnership with Repsol - in using 100 percent renewable petrol to fuel the entire race support fleet, which would otherwise be running on conventional petrol. The transition will reduce SailGP's carbon emissions in Cádiz by up to 13 tonnes of CO2e.

Another celebration is the two-year anniversary of female athletes racing onboard all F50s for the first time in Cádiz in 2021. Since that boundary was broken, 100 percent of SailGP races have featured female athletes.

Emirates GBR strategist Hannah Mills said: "It definitely won't be long until there is a female driver, whether it is me or someone else; I think it will be a massive step forward for sailing.

"For me SailGP is one of the only sports in the world where you can truly have men and women competing on an equal footing. I think that is so exciting and what that showcases to the rest of sport and the world is amazing. I am very excited for that to happen. I am pushing hard and would love to be able to do that but equally providing the opportunity for other women to come forward and do that is really, really important to me.

On Cádiz being the first time SailGP has delivered a 100 per cent clean energy on-water event, she added: "The fact that SailGP has managed to achieve that in such a short space of time - we are really pushing the marine industry to be cleaner and pushing that to happen quicker.

"In all industries we need to see this change happening faster and faster because climate change is one of the biggest challenges we are facing as a humanity. SailGP managing to achieve that on the water in this event is very exciting and definitely sends a good message across the sporting world of innovation and what is possible within sport to make change happen."

The Spain Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz commences at 3.30 p.m. local time tomorrow, October 14, and can be seen on RTVE Play, LaLiga+ and TV3 with repeats on linear FTA. For details on how to watch around the globe visit SailGP.com/watch. For fans in Spain, limited on-water tickets are still available to have an amazing seat in the heart of the action. Head to SailGP.com/Spain for more information.

SPAIN SAIL GRAND PRIX | ANDALUCÍA - CÁDIZ //

Day One Racing: Saturday, October 14, 3:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. CEST
Day Two Racing: Sunday, October 15, 3:30 p.m - 5:00 p.m. CEST

SAILGP SEASON 4 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after four events) //

1 // Australia // 35 points
2 // Emirates GBR // 29 points
3 // Spain // 29 points
4 // ROCKWOOL Denmark // 27 points
5 // New Zealand // 23 points*
6 // United States // 22 points
7 // France // 20 points
8 // Canada // 18 points**
9 // Switzerland // 10 points
10 // Germany // 6 points***

*New Zealand SailGP Team granted six points for ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto as unable to compete due to win damage suffered at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez

**Germany SailGP Team docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix

***Canada SailGP Team Docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez

SAILGP SEASON 4 IMPACT LEAGUE STANDINGS //

1 // Australia // 183 points
2 // Switzerland // 169 points
3 // Emirates GBR // 158 points
4 // France // 156 points
5 // New Zealand // 152 points
6 // United States // 143 points
7 // Canada // 141 points
8 // Germany // 140 points
9 // ROCKWOOL Denmark // 139 points
10 // Spain // 129 points

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