The Bledisloe Cup style rivalry between the New Zealand and Australia teams was on full display on the first day of racing at the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch. The two teams went head-to-head in three races, with the Kiwis taking the lead over the Aussies.
Set against the iconic backdrop of Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour, thousands of fans lined the shore to watch the action packed racing, with gusty winds challenging the nine national teams and their flying F50s.
The desire to beat New Zealand at home is ‘something that’s just in an Aussie’s blood’, Tom Slingsby commented.
“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.
The Australians also suffered a mishap during the final fleet race of the day with seaweed getting caught in the rudder, which cost the Aussies hugely in their overall points.
The Australia SailGP Team sits in fifth place going into race day two, with only seven points between them and New Zealand in first place. However, with three more fleet races to go before the podium final, the competition remains tight, and the Australians are still in the hunt.
Tom Slingbsy commented on the team’s mixed performance saying: “We are not sailing that great and usually in those windy conditions we would be charging through the fleet. The kiwis are sailing better than us, simple as that. We need to reset and come back firing tomorrow.”
Racing resumes tomorrow, where the podium final will take place with the top three scoring teams to crown the champion of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix. Fans can tune in from 1:00PM AEDT to watch the racing live on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports.