The winners of SailGP Inspire’s WASZP racing in Christchurch have relived the ‘incredibly close’ racing action, which took place on the same racecourse as SailGP’s flying F50 fleet.
Kiwi sailors Stella Bilger, 18, and Noah Malpot, 17, will proceed to the WASZP Grand Final - Championship of Champions in San Francisco after winning this month’s WASZP racing in Christchurch. There they will battle against the best young sailors in the world for the opportunity to join one of the SailGP teams in Season 4 and ride on an F50.
The young athletes trained and competed across a four-day program on Lyttelton Harbour, which saw them go behind the scenes of the Tech Base, meet with SailGP athletes and compete on the F50 racecourse in front of sell-out shoreside crowds.
Malpot said the event was ‘only the third time’ he had completed in slalom racing and he ‘was still very much figuring it out.’
The first day of racing, he said, saw competitors battle ‘an extremely gusty and shifty offshore breeze’ and fight to ‘stay in the pressure’. But on the second day, the WASZP fleet ‘sailed further out from shore’ and found ‘more consistent pressure.’ “This made for some incredibly tight and yet incredibly enjoyable racing.”
Female winner Stella Bilger agreed, ‘there was close competition and lots of light and windy conditions.’ She added that the short racecourse created ‘fun chaos’ as the WASZPs went head to head for glory.
Reflecting on the experience, Malpot said: “Having watched every minute of other SailGP events online, it was amazing to be finally able to watch the F50s in person, and even get a tour of the team bases with the Inspire program.”
Looking ahead to May’s WASZP Grand Final - Championship of Champions, Bilger said she ‘couldn’t wait’ for the next stage of the competition amid ambitions of one day helming an F50 herself.
Malpot added: “From what I’ve heard, San Francisco is basically the ultimate sailing venue and I’m really looking forward to meeting other WASZP sailors from around the world.”
Taking place alongside the Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final | San Francisco (May 6-7), the WASZP Grand Final is the culmination of SailGP’s Inspire Racing x WASZP series.