The New Zealand SailGP Team has been bolstered by the appointment of Ray Davies as coach.
An incredibly successful sailor with more than 20 years’ experience in America’s Cup campaigns, Davies brings a wealth of knowledge to the New Zealand SailGP Team. He joins the team as an extension to his senior role with Emirates Team New Zealand where he drives the on-water performance of the sailing team.
Davies said: “It’s fantastic to join the New Zealand SailGP Team. I’ve worked with many of the athletes in this team over the years and I’m really excited about the opportunity to help them achieve success. Having this group together consistently in different formats of racing across both the America’s Cup and SailGP is a powerful combination.”
New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO Peter Burling said: “It’s great to have Ray onboard. He’s someone a lot of our team have worked with and have a really strong relationship with going back to when we joined Emirates Team New Zealand.
“He’s obviously a very skilled and analytical sailor and has spent a lot of time sailing in these waters in San Francisco so it’s great to have him here for this event as well as Season 3.”
The New Zealand SailGP Team took time to find their feet early this season without a coach, and Burling believes the appointment of Davies will help take the team to the next level.
“Ray’s role with the team will be making sure everyone gets the most out of themselves and the team really maximises its performance. He’ll be integral in helping us through pre-briefing, debriefing and ensuring we keep improving out on the water. That’s something we felt we lacked a little bit over the last couple of events in being able to make those adjustments and improving during the day so Ray will really help us with that.
"He has great attention to detail and is good at working with large groups. There’s a lot of different elements that make things click and he’s a great character to bring everything together.”
Davies said with the data available to all SailGP Teams through the Oracle Cloud, there were plenty of opportunities to find efficiencies.
“There’s so much data available to us so our focus is making sure the boat is being sailed as efficiently as possible, comparing how we’re sailing against the other teams to make sure if someone has a speed edge that we find out why and get on top of that early, analyse the videos and make sure primarily that we’re sailing the boat really well and we’re not losing races because of boat handling or communication. We’ll tidy up that side of it first and then focus on racing around the track like a normal yacht race.
“With this exciting format of racing with a lot of high performance boats racing at speed on a tight course, how the team reacts in real time and positioning the boat has a massive impact on the end result.”
After more than three months since the last SailGP event, New Zealand’s F50 Amokura splashed down on San Francisco Bay on Saturday for the team’s first training session ahead of the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix.
The fleet has spent the last two days in the south bay by the Tech Site getting back up to speed.
Grinder Josh Junior has been ruled out of the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix after undergoing minor surgery on his knee last month.
James Wierzbowski, who featured for New Zealand during the Italy and Great Britain Sail Grand Prixes, re-joins the team in Junior’s absence. Wierzbowski will also cover for Andy Maloney as flight controller at the SailGP Season 3 opener in Bermuda in May, with Maloney and his wife expecting their first baby.
Currently sitting in fifth position on the overall leaderboard, New Zealand is unable to make it into the $1 million Grand Final Championship race, but Burling is eyeing a big performance in San Francisco.
“The focus for the team this week is about making big strides forward and ending the season on a high. We’ve got a great chance of securing fourth position in the overall league which is our goal.
“It really felt like over the last three events (France, Spain and Australia Sail Grand Prixes) that we’ve had good chances of getting through to the final each time and not quite made it, so it’ll be really pleasing to finish off the season strongly.”
While the New Zealand SailGP Team may not be able to take out the top prize on the water, it is on the cusp of claiming the inaugural Impact League trophy.
A second leaderboard which runs alongside the Season Championship, the Impact League tracks the positive actions teams take to reduce their overall footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing.
There will be two podiums in San Francisco, with the winner of the Impact League crowned alongside the Season Champion and taking home a USD $100,000 prize for its Race for the Future partner.
New Zealand has led the Impact League since its inception this season and currently holds a commanding lead at the top of the table, 51 points clear of second placed Great Britain.
You can watch all the action from the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix live on NZHerald.co.nz and Sky Sport NZ from 10am on Sunday March 27 and Monday March 28.