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Zhik Paris 2024

SailGP: Kiwis have a target on their backs as teams look to win a Finals place

by Natalie Fortier 31 May 17:48 PDT 1-2 June 2024
Peter Burling, Co-CEO and driver of New Zealand SailGP Team - May 2024 © Ricardo Pinto / SailGP

SailGP's long-awaited Canadian debut is just one day away, as teams prepare for the final push of the season - with only six weeks and three events until the Grand Final in San Francisco.

New Zealand enters the weekend top of the overall standings, ten points ahead of Australia. Speaking at this morning's pre-event press conference, rival Aussie driver Tom Slingsby conceded New Zealand were "the top team at the moment."

"They're sailing the best, they've been the most consistent - they've won five of the last seven events," said Slingsby - who also acknowledged the challenge at hand: "We have had that target on our back for years now - this is our first time as the hunter. And for us it's a nice place to be - we need to improve - it's definitely given us a kick up the ass to take our fingers out, close that gap in the results to get in the final."

Black Foils driver Peter Burling said: "At this point in the season, every point counts and competition across the fleet is higher than ever - you're going to see teams doing all they can to secure every single point and we're absolutely looking for the win."

Burling continued: "Phil [Robertson] got the better of us at our first home event, and we'll try to do the same this weekend. Just enjoy it - it's absolute mint conditions and going to be a beautiful weekend yachting."

While the Aussies and Kiwis jostle at the top of the leaderboard, several teams and fans will be keeping an equally-close eye on the battle for third, with only Canada (53 points), France (56) and Rockwool Denmark (56) all looking for a window to knock Los Gallos (65) off the podium.

Following an extended training window in Halifax, U.S. SailGP Team driver Taylor Canfield said his crew was ready to put their disastrous Bermuda capsize behind them: "We've learned a lot from the mistake we made and put our hands up," said Canfield. "We have already made great progress in the last two days to accelerate our learning again. It feels promising that we are on the same upward trajectory pre-crash."

The Rockwool Canada Sail Grand Prix begins tomorrow Saturday 1 June at 1900UTC. The event will play out in front of sold-out crowds, with tickets to the event snapped up in minutes.

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