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Big crashes and all of the drama from the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix

by SailGP 29 Apr 13:47 PDT
Big crashes and all of the drama from the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix revealed in the latest episode of Racing on the Edge © SailGP

The latest episode of SailGP's Racing on the Edge docuseries, in partnership with Rolex, unfolds all of the drama and action from the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in March, which saw various incidents, crashes and teams docked points - blowing the Season 4 leaderboard wide open.

The opening scenes of the new episode focus on the continued and heated rivalry between the Australia and New Zealand SailGP Teams and drivers Tom Slingsby and Peter Burling - the latter making his return for the team's home event after missing the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix in February due to the birth of his first child.

"It's incredible to see the Aussies take so long to get a win on the board this season," said Burling in the pre-event press conference, commenting on Australia's win in Sydney which he missed and saw the now Switzerland SailGP Team driver Nathan Outteridge step in to take his place for the event.

It would unfold that New Zealand didn't need to worry about the threat of Slingsby and the Australia team after they crashed out of the event after the first fleet race. The Racing on the Edge cameras captured the incident and the fallout which saw the Aussie boat collide with a course marker which caused significant damage to the boat.

Speaking on the incident, Slingsby said: "There was a lot of damage to the boat, but I think if I carried on straight, I would have really injured someone. So I was glad I did what I did."

The significant damage ended the Aussie's chances of repeating its Sydney success. Slingsby's team was out of the event and docked 12 event points and eight season points as a result which dents their Season 4 title chances with New Zealand securing victory on home waters and taking top spot.

This is the first time Australia has been removed from the top of the table this season and has now opened up the league to other challengers ready to pounce with only four events remaining.

In high spirits after the win, Burling said: "It's amazing how much more special it is to win at home. I think winning at home is one of the most special things in sport, you know, in front of so many family, friends and such a passionate crowd."

The Black Foils were made to work for its victory and the new episode of Racing on the Edge shines a light on some of the other teams, such as Phil Robertson's Canada, who won the previous event in New Zealand in Season 3, Quentin Delapierre's France and Diego Botin's Spain who pushed New Zealand all of the way.

After impressive performances in the first three races, France and Canada SailGP teams made it to the event final and came close to causing an upset but narrowly missed out on the win. Robertson said: "After the carnage this weekend. I think we're back in the game."

It wasn't just Australia who endured a tough time in New Zealand. Emirates GBR had a number of problems during the event. Racing on the Edge cameras captured the moment Hannah Mills, Emirates GBR strategist, was taken away on the medical boat due to injury and replaced by World Championships silver medalist, Hannah Diamond.

In the practice, Emirates GBR collided with Spain in its blind spot which resulted in the team being docked eight event points and four season points.

Diamond said: "It's a horrible, horrible feeling when you have a situation like that, because in terms of what that means going forwards for the season with the penalty points. It is one of the worst feelings and certainly for me personally a really tough moment but those are the kind of things you need to be able to bounce back from."

Nicolai Sehested's ROCKWOOL Denmark team was also docked eight event points and four season points for colliding with Canada before the teams had even crossed the start line in the opening race on Sunday.

The number of crashes and incidents all happened on the Sunday when only one day of racing took place due to the Saturday's cancellation when dolphins were spotted on the racecourse. The episode went behind the scenes and provides further detail and insights on SailGP's marine mammal protection protocols that it has in place at all of its events.

Racing on the Edge closes out with dramatic and emotional scenes with the Black Foils celebrating their victory in front of a home crowd and Lisa Darmian, SailGP presenter, summarizing the madness of the ITM New Zealand Grand Prix by saying: "We had a beautiful backdrop. We had crashes, we had penalty points, we had the home team winning. It was almost scripted. I think in one way it highlights that we (SailGP) do put nature at the forefront of our decision making but we also live for racing and that's what we got."

What does all the drama of the ITM New Zealand Grand Prix mean for the remainder of Season 4? With only five points separating Australia, Spain and France can the Aussies bounce back in Bermuda?

Tune into the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix on May 4-5 to find out. For details on where to watch visit SailGP.com/Watch.

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