The absence of New Zealand in Saint-Tropez and Taranto allowed lower tier teams to move up the fleet, SailGP commentators have said.
New Zealand’s 29m wing collapsed at the end of racing on the first day of Saint-Tropez, ruling the Kiwis out of competing on day two and for the whole Taranto event.
As compensation, the team was awarded six season points in Taranto - equivalent of an average 5th place finish, but their absence allowed other teams to move up the fleet, according to commentators Stevie Morrison and Todd Harris.
While Morrison conceded that there was no foregone conclusion that the Kiwis ‘would definitely have won those events’, he said there was ‘every chance they could have got into the Final’. “And if they get to the Final, there’s every chance they can win,” he said.
“They’re one of the top teams in SailGP and, chances are, one of the top teams will be somewhere near the top.”
He added that the absence of New Zealand also meant there was ‘more space on the racecourse’, which would have helped the remaining nine teams.
Harris agreed. “They’re one of the top five teams and if you take one out, everyone else moves up a spot.”
However, the Kiwis’ absence from the second day of Saint-Tropez and the whole of Taranto will heap pressure onto the team when racing kicks off in Cadiz next weekend, Harris argued.
“They’ve been gone for basically two events now,” he said, “it will be interesting to see if they’re going to be worried about the boat and the equipment and how they respond.”
He added: “It wouldn’t surprise me if Peter Burling [New Zealand driver] comes out on day one and just sends it.”
Heading into the Spain Sail Grand Prix Andalucía-Cádiz, New Zealand sit 5th on the overall Championship leaderboard with 23 points - just one-point ahead of the United States in sixth.