The New Zealand SailGP Team has started strong in the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago, Navy Pier, sitting third overall with a total of 23 points at the end of the first day of fleet racing.

Finishing first in race one ahead of Great Britain in second and Canada in third, the Kiwis delivered solid scores throughout the day on Lake Michigan, finishing fifth in race two and fourth in race three after a penalty for pushing aggressively against Tom Slingby’s Australia to get ahead in the final turning mark dropped them from third.

Driver Peter Burling was pleased with the team’s execution, “Our strategy this week has been all about getting off the line, sailing the boat cleanly and avoiding costly mistakes. Race one today was one of the first races where we’ve managed to execute off the start really well and it’s great to leave the day with a few solid scores.”

Season 3 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // New Zealand crew

The second race of the day was delayed due to issues with the rake control system, with the race management team granting an additional nine minutes to replace the hydraulic valve on the starboard bow of Amokura - an impressive replacement under pressure.

Burling says, “We had a lot of issues with the rake system on the boat in race one, so while we managed to get a really healthy lead at mark one, we started to have some issues out of the first gybe and the rest of the race was way harder than it should have been. We were really lucky to have that extra time and the tech team did an amazing job to change the valve over. It still didn’t quite seem right but it was definitely better for the rest of the day.”

Season 3 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // New Zealand city skyline

Sitting at the top of the leaderboard, the Canada SailGP Team - driven by Kiwi Phil Robertson - continued to shine in Chicago after a podium finish in Bermuda, finishing the day first overall with a total of 27 points, followed closely by Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain with 26.

Looking ahead to day two, Burling said, “Today was an amazing way to start - there was great breeze and perfect direction for this venue and that tight racetrack. Tomorrow’s going to be completely different with similar conditions to what we had yesterday. How teams manage to put together a race in super light conditions will decide this event.

The action continues tomorrow on day two of the T-Mobile United States Sail Grand Prix in Chicago. New Zealanders can watch live at 7am Monday 20 June NZT on Sky Sport or live and on-demand on YouTube.