Incredible comeback for the Canadians this weekend to take the win at the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix!
The Canadians were the ones to watch this weekend, consistently moving up the leaderboard and challenging the hometown favourites. Having overcome the huge setback following on from the severe weather incident in Sydney last month, the Canadians showed true resiliency and that SPIRIT was back in full force.
Racing got underway on Saturday afternoon in Lyttelton Harbour with picture perfect conditions. Fans lined the shoreline, dotted the hills and packed the event grandstands which had been sold out for months prior to the event.
Consistent and strong starts for driver Phil Robertson and the crew, meant solid finishes (5,3,1) that translated to second place after day one.
"It was obviously quite nice to win a race and we had a couple of good races before that as well. It was a tricky old day. We didn't really get any time to warm up, or even commission our new wing, so we were chucked in the deep end and we just hoped that everything worked and it seemed to go alright. We slowly improved during the day and came away with the bullet," said Phil after racing.
Heading into day two, it was critical that the Canadians stay ahead of France and Great Britain to ensure a place in the finals. Phil and the crew did just that, finishing sixth and fourth, just what was needed to advance to the finals alongside the home team (NZL) and season leader's Australia.
It's been a few events since the Canadians were in the finals, but Phil and the crew onboard SPIRIT executed a near perfect final race, with fewer manoeuvres and averaging higher speeds than the Australians and the New Zealanders. Phil's match racing skills came in handy and the Canadians maintained a steady lead throughout. There was a heart wrenching moment on leg five, and a risk that the Kiwis would surge ahead, when the Canadians incurred a boundary penalty. As it turned out, the penalty meant one less turn for the Canadians and they sailed clearly to the finish to win the first ever event for Canada!
Competing for the first time in his home waters, Phil said "It’s super special and I am so stoked to win at home! For Canada it's amazing, we’ve been working hard and this is an example of what we can to when we put it all together."
The team applauded SailGP Technologies' Herculean effort to get SPIRIT back on the start line after Sydney, without their efforts and those of the SailGP Tech Team, none of this would have been possible.
Sights are now set on the Grand Final in San Francisco on 6-7 May. Tickets are selling fast, but still available online.