New Zealand has claimed victory at the opening event of the season, winning in Chicago ahead of Australia in second and Canada in third. The Kiwis are at the top of the season leaderboard for the first time since joining the circuit.

“This puts us in a great position at the start of the season and we’re really happy to walk away with the first win. This feels good.”

Season 4 // New Zealand SailGP Team // New Zealand celebrate Chicago victory on board

After an action-packed first day of fleet racing, championship Saturday started out in a crawl, with light winds making it challenging for teams to get up and foiling on the fresh waters of Lake Michigan. Crews had a full set up change overnight, racing in the ‘four up’ configuration with 29-metre wings on board to make the most of the light breeze.

But that didn’t mean the day was without drama, with a game of strategy playing out on Chicago’s skyline stadium. “When it’s light, you look around and you’ve got all the time in the word but it’s amazing how such a short racecourse can have so much going on. You make one little mistake and it’s so easy to get passed,” Burling said.

New Zealand finished third in the fleet race four behind Spain in first and the United States in second. Switzerland won the fifth and final fleet race of the weekend, with Canada in second and France in third, setting up for a podium race match up between trans-Tasman rivals Australia and New Zealand, alongside Canada.

Finding the best angle off the start in the three-boat final, New Zealand led the race to mark one. Coach Ray Davies said, “We got a bit nervous with Canada splitting the course - it could have gone either way but the team managed to find some clean air and pull away for the win.”

Season 4 // United States Sail Grand Prix Chicago // Season 4 leaderboard after racing

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Burling said this weekend’s results bode well for the team’s confidence: “I think this may be the lightest we’ve raced in the F50, but really proud of the way the team was able to make their way around the track. We’re really happy with the way we’re progressing. We tried a few different things this weekend - to be able to change our approach and still end up on the podium shows the depth we have as a group.”

The most exciting race on water returns in just five weeks, making its Los Angeles debut 22-23 July PDT. Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery, fans can watch delayed coverage of today’s racing on Three at 4.30pm, and relive all the action on-demand on ThreeNow.