- The world’s most exciting racing on water heads to the South Island of New Zealand for the first-time racing on the shores of Lyttelton Harbour in Christchurch, 18-19 March
- Ben Cornish joins the British squad in New Zealand allowing grinder Matt Gotrel time to recover following his overboard incident last month in Sydney
As Sir Ben Ainslie and his Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team head to the penultimate event of the Season 3 Championship it’s all to play for as the pressure ramps up to secure a spot in the San Francisco Season 3 Grand Final in May.
The team are currently in fourth place following the Sydney Sail Grand Prix last month, sitting only two points behind the French in third and three points from the Kiwi’s in second. With the leader board leaving no room for error, we’ll need to see the team tap into some British brute out on the Lyttelton Harbour waters this weekend to secure a place in the top three.
Emirates GBR will have new muscle on the grinding pedestal in New Zealand, with America’s Cup athlete Ben Cornish (GBR) stepping in for grinder Matt Gotrel (GBR) who is recovering from a fractured sacrum bone following his overboard incident last time out in Sydney. British Olympic gold winning rower Gotrel, fondly known as Shrek, will miss his first ever SailGP event but is making a good recovery and aims to return for the Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco (May 6/7). Matt’s mainstay on the grinding handles Neil Hunter retains his place in Christchurch alongside trimmer grinder Nick Hutton. The driver, strategist, wing trimmer, and flight controller roles are again filled by Ben Ainslie (GBR), Hannah Mills (GBR), Iain Jensen (AUS) and Luke Parkinson (GBR / AUS) with Hannah Diamond (GBR) completing the line-up as the reserve sailor.
Sir Ben Ainslie Driver & CEO, Emirates GBR said: “We are now at the business end of the season with Christchurch being the penultimate event, but our focus will remain the same, it’s all about solid performances that qualifies the team in the top three for the winner takes all San Francisco final.
Ainslie commented on Gotrel missing the event: “Sydney was full-on racing with plenty of big moments on the racetrack, Shrek certainly took the biggest hit for the team, but he is healing well at home, and we look forward to getting him back on board in San Francisco. We are extremely fortunate as an organisation to be able to draw on a wealth of exceptional sailing talent like Ben Cornish to step in, we are ready to go racing!”
Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, recently declared its ambition to inspire three million young people to take action to protect nature, people, and the planet through the Protect Our Future climate digital education platform. From the moment they arrived In New Zealand, the team have been engaging in a wide array of purpose and environmental activities with young people across the Christchurch community.
Hannah Mills spent an afternoon inspiring pupils from Lyttelton Primary School on how to ‘Protect Our Future’ and take action against Climate Change by teaching a lesson on the importance of photosynthesis and plants, like seagrass, have on the Ocean. Hannah then went on to help Charteris Bay Yacht club’s youth members plant over 100 trees at Orton Bradley Park, including planting one for her 5-month-old daughter Sienna who has fast become the team’s most beloved mascot! Grinder, Neil Hunter then picked up the baton and joined the club for its charity fundraiser where the proceeds went to purchasing new RS Feva boats for the aspiring young members.
British fans will need to set the alarm to watch the racing live but it will be action not to be missed! watch here on Sky Sports from 2AM or for free to view via SailGP's YouTube channel.