SailGP’s 10-strong fleet of one-design F50s is set to reshuffle ahead of racing in Sydney after New Zealand’s lightning-struck F50 known as Amokura was deemed unable to compete.
The Kiwis’ boat was being towed back to the Tech Site shortly after racing in Singapore when lightning struck the top of the 29m wing, causing significant damage.
Initial investigation found the lightning had ‘exploded all of the electronics on the boat,’ according to Tech Team Manager Brad Marsh, while the extent of the damage to the carbon fiber platform remains unknown.
As a result, the Kiwis’ F50 will be shipped back home to the SailGP Technologies facility in Warkworth, New Zealand to undergo further testing and repairs. This rules out the possibility of the boat being repaired in time to compete in Sydney next month.
“The option of sending Amokura back here to do all the analysis we need to do and verify that it is structurally sound makes sense - we have the facilities and resources to do the investigation that we need to,” Marsh said.
The confirmation that Amokura will not be ready to compete in Sydney has resulted in a reshuffle of the F50 fleet.
In Sydney, the New Zealand team will instead compete in Boat 6 - the F50 previously used by the Japan team and currently in use by Canada. Canada meanwhile will take delivery of Boat 10, which recently completed construction in New Zealand and will be the team’s permanent boat going forward.
Canada driver Phil Robertson said the team was ‘thrilled’ to receive the boat ‘earlier than expected’.
“The only downside is the lack of time we have to prepare it for racing,” he added. “We will have a lot of work ahead of us but have a great team that is hungry to work and get the new boat on the start line in top shape.”
Boat 8 - the lightning-struck boat previously used by New Zealand - will be shipped from Singapore to Auckland next week to arrive at SailGP Technologies by February 14. The race will then be on to test and repair the boat in time for the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in March.
Marsh said the reshuffle solution was a consequence of SailGP’s one-design fleet.
“Every single boat, every single wing is completely one-design, and the team should feel comfortable moving around the different parts and still race the best they can and get the results they need,” he said.
“We’re able to shuffle the parts around, shuffle wings, boards, rudders and platforms in the knowledge that we have a one-design fleet and we can always put one-design boats out there for the athletes.”