The Sydney Impact League saw the closest set of results yet in the race for the sport’s first podium for the planet.

The New Zealand SailGP Team has emerged as the winner of the Impact League in Sydney, placing them in pole position to be crowned the inaugural winners with one event left to go – the Grand Final in San Francisco, March 26-27.

In an extremely close-run contest, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s New Zealand team overcame tough competition from several teams including a much-improved France SailGP Team, and the Australia and British teams to win the Impact League following an external audit completed last week.

The Impact League is a world-first in sport – integrating positive sustainability action into the sport with teams competing at each event to win points in the league. The teams work with their own dedicated purpose partner and are assessed across ten robust criteria: Sustainability, innovation, on-water (clean energy transition), merchandise, waste & single-use plastics, travel & accommodation, food, using their voice and diversity & inclusion.

The winners of the overall Impact League will be announced at the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix in San Francisco, with the winner taking home a $100k prize for their purpose partner.

Over the season the New Zealand SailGP Team has focussed on making many small improvements, which are seeing significant collective impact. At the Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney these include: reducing hose water consumption by 36 per cent, replacing single-use cable ties with self-adhesive velcro ties - potentially saving up to 50 cable ties ending up in the ocean, and eliminating the need to use electrical tape on the tramp. The team also partnered with Gen Less on a campaign, #RightSideNZ, to encourage New Zealanders to be world leaders in clean and clever energy use.

New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO and wing trimmer Tuke said: “We’re really happy to maintain our position at the top of the Impact League heading into the Grand Final in San Francisco. The competition has been heating up all season and it’s been awesome to see so many of the teams really pushing one another.

“We’ve been looking at every area of our operations to find ways to improve, develop innovative solutions, introduce new technologies, connect with sustainable partners and use our voice to share the message of ocean restoration and protection with our Race for the Future partner Live Ocean.

“It’s been a huge team effort to get to this point of having a healthy lead in the Impact League heading into the last event in the USA. The goal for the team now is to finish the season off strong, both in the Impact League and in the racing.”

The French team – under the new leadership of Quentin Delapierre – surged into second place, with high scores across the board, including in the technological innovation category for their ongoing collaboration with Energy Observer to investigate hydrogen powered alternatives for support boats and event logistics.

Tom Slingsby’s Australia team took third place. As part of its efforts for Sydney they partnered up with WLTH who promised funds for beach clean ups - the better the Australian team performed, the more they would donate. Thanks to the Australia team’s win they have funded the clean up of 2.7km of Australian coastline.

Click HERE to see this season's Impact League results in full...