The wider SailGP fleet have begun ‘copying New Zealand’s style of starting’, resulting in the Kiwi team’s ‘faltering’ performance in Cádiz, according to SailGP’s podcast.
In the latest episode of Deep Dive, hosts Stevie Morrison and Freddie Carr, together with SailGP presenter Lisa Darmanin, dissect all the racing action from Cádiz and analyse the performances of the nine-strong F50 fleet.
The trio focus in on New Zealand’s rising trajectory throughout Season 3, with the team battling back against criticism to claim back-to-back event wins in Plymouth and Copenhagen.
“We all agree that was down to the starting,” Carr says, describing the team’s strategy as ‘a timed run deep in the box about a minute out, keeping it ripping and nailing their timed run to the start.”
In Copenhagen the success of this strategy was clear, with the Kiwis leading the sprint to Mark 1 in all three fleet races. But in Cádiz, Carr notes that ‘all nine boats were at the back of the box’ with ‘45 seconds to go’ in a direct imitation of New Zealand’s starting strategy. This consequently ‘blunted the weapon’ for the Kiwis, he says.
“New Zealand were still doing their timed runs, but they weren’t nailing them and I think that’s why we saw a bit of a falter from them,” he says.
Morrison agrees: “The teams are not stupid - they’re learning on the job out there and (…) they can spot the patterns.” This left the Kiwi team ‘rattled’, Morrison says, resulting in a mixed 1-6-5-8-7 fleet racing record and 6th place overall.
One key error saw the Kiwis cross the start line around five seconds early in the fifth and final fleet race, earning them an OCS penalty alongside Spain and the United States, both of which crossed the line with one second to go.
New Zealand and the U.S. cleared the penalty quickly by not turning towards the first mark and immediately dropping behind Great Britain, which was the last boat to start. Spain however didn’t react as quickly and struggled to get back behind the British boat to clear the penalty.
This incident caught the eye of Morrison, who argues New Zealand should have been ‘Black Flagged’ or picked up ‘a far harsher penalty than they did’.
Dissecting the incident, Morrison says: “Jimmy Spithill on the American boat had the chance to shut the door on New Zealand, but the Kiwis saw that coming and started over the line. They had the option to tack and jibe around.”
He argues that in a ‘normal race’, this move would result in ‘instant disqualification’. “Our rules are a little bit different to keep the racing tighter, but for me that was such a bad foul - I didn’t like the way that went.”
Darmanin disagrees the incident was worthy of a Black Flag, describing it as ‘a clever move’. “I think it was probably what I would’ve done in that situation - just gone for it rather than be trapped out and start behind everyone with not a lot of speed.”
However she questions why both the U.S. and New Zealand’s OCS penalties were so promptly cleared.
“For me it was a question of why was it cleared so quickly - or was it just a really good technique to clear the penalty and then get back into the race?”
The Deep Dive podcast is available on all major podcast platforms and features new episodes ahead of every event of SailGP Season 3.