Australia could employ point-scoring tactics in Christchurch to hand-pick the line-up of the looming Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco.
The Aussies currently sit at the top of the Championship leaderboard with a dominating 12-point lead and look certain to secure a place in three-boat, winner-takes-all Final. But with just seven-points separating the Kiwis and Denmark in fifth, there are four teams competing for the final two spots. France and Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team are also in the hunt for a coveted place in the Grand Final.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of racing this weekend, Australia driver Tom Slingsby revealed the team would be strategizing ‘who we might want to help into the Final and who we want to take out’, adding ‘it’s all part of the game’.
He agreed that Peter Burling’s New Zealand is ‘the team’s biggest rival’, having beaten Australia twice in the final showdowns of Singapore and Plymouth.
“They’ve won three events this season and beaten us in those final races multiple times,” he said, adding that Burling ‘would be going after [the Aussies] if he was in the same situation’.
The desire to beat New Zealand at home is ‘something that’s just in an Aussie’s blood’, he added.
“It’s a huge drive for us to come to New Zealand and beat them on their home turf, whether it’s rugby, cricket or sailing - for sure there’s extra motivation there,” he said.
He added that the showdown between the two teams will be ‘very important’ as Australia looks to ‘dent the confidence’ of the Kiwis ahead of the Championship deciding Grand Final.
“We’re probably the top two teams in SailGP and confidence is huge in this sport.”
The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch will take place on March 18 & 19, with racing kicking off at 15:00 NZDT. Full broadcast information and How To Watch details are HERE.