The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch kicks off on Saturday, with six fleet races and the winner-takes-all Final scheduled across two days of racing. From New Zealand’s first home event to no practice racing ahead of the event, we round up the top five things to look out for when racing gets underway at 15:00 NZDT.
Can New Zealand win at home?
Peter Burling’s New Zealand team is gearing up for its first ever home event on Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour. With the team hanging onto its second place position on the overall Championship leaderboard by just one-point, it’s make or break in Christchurch. Passionate Kiwi crowds are expected to show out in force this weekend, but will their home support buoy New Zealand to victory?
Who will disrupt the congested leaderboard?
As the penultimate event of Season 3 gets underway, the stakes couldn’t be higher. The congested Championship leaderboard sees just seven points separating New Zealand in second and Denmark in fifth. Christchurch is set to host a crucial showdown as the fight for the last two places in the three-boat Grand Final begins.
United States crew changes
As United States eyes a last minute dash to the Season 3 Grand Final, driver Jimmy Spithill has unveiled a refreshed crew line up. Former flight controller Rome Kirby has returned in the role of tactician / grinder, while Cameron Farrah joins in the strategist role. Will these changes help propel the United States up the leaderboard?
Glenn Ashby joins Switzerland
Seasoned sailor Glenn Ashby has joined the ranks of the Switzerland SailGP Team in Christchurch, replacing former wing trimmer Stu Bithell. Ashby brings a wealth of knowledge to this young team, but will it change their performance on the water?
No practice racing
With high winds forecast on Friday and a recently repaired SailGP fleet, the decision was made to cancel practice racing. This means the only teams that will have trained ahead of racing (albeit briefly) are New Zealand and Spain. This means the rest of the fleet will lack familiarity with the course when they hit the water on Saturday. Will this give New Zealand and Spain an edge over the rest of the fleet. Or will the other teams rise to the challenge of the steep learning curve?