New Zealand sits seventh on the event leaderboard after a fourth, fifth and tenth-place finish on day one of the Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix. The Kiwis were “blown away” by a controversial penalty which forced them to drop from second to fifth in the second fleet race of the day.

In race one, New Zealand’s fighting style saw the team claw their way back from last at mark one, sailing well throughout the congestion to earn a solid fourth-place finish behind Australia in first, Emirates Great Britain in second and Denmark in third.

Season 4 // New Zealand SailGP Team // New Zealand F50 with LA shoreline

In race two, New Zealand worked their way to second before a penalty for not giving room at the mark to the USA. Driver Peter Burling said: “Personally I’m blown away by how we got a penalty in that situation.”

“I spoke to Jimmy [Spithill] who our penalty was against and he didn’t even know it was on us. I think the umpires need to have a little look at themselves after that and how they can make better decisions going forward.”

Strategically, New Zealand navigated downwind to get behind the USA while also putting themselves back on the windier side of the course, but it wasn’t enough to make up significant lost ground. Denmark, who executed flawlessly from start to finish, won race two ahead of Australia in second and Spain in third.

Season 4 // New Zealand SailGP Team // Kiwi F50 underway in LA

“In race three, the breeze dropped right off,” said Burling “We probably took a bit too much risk trying to get foiling on that first reach and ended up off the back of the pack.” Briefly able to get up and foiling, Emirates Great Britain surged ahead of the pack to finish first minutes before Spain in second and Canada in third.

“It’s a tough one for us but we’ll learn from it and come out ready to get a couple of good races on the board tomorrow,” said Burling.

Season 4 // New Zealand SailGP Team // Close up of New Zealand F50

With all to play for on day two, Burling said: “Hopefully the fog can clear tomorrow so the breeze can come in and we can get some more good racing in. We’re right up for the challenge.”

“It’s an awesome race course here. It’s so cool having the top marks so close to the fans on shore. It would definitely be pretty tight if we got 20 knots, but with conditions like we had in those first two races today it was absolutely perfect.”

The most exciting race on water is back tomorrow at 11am Monday 24 July NZST, with live racing Sunday and Monday, only on ThreeNow. Fans can catch delayed coverage on Three (linear) at 4.30pm.