A “tough weekend” sees New Zealand finish seventh in Los Angeles, inching down to fifth on the overall season standings. Spain celebrated their first-ever event victory - making Los Gallos the seventh of ten teams to win a Grand Prix in the global racing championship.

Entering the day seventh on the event leaderboard, flight controller Andy Maloney said: “Going into the day, we knew we needed two solid results - if not to win both fleet races. So we were happy to risk it a bit more in that first one but pulled the trigger early and got OCS [on-course side penalty]. It was pretty tough from there.”

Season 4 // New Zealand SailGP Team // New Zealand F50 rounds mark in LA

Race four went the way of the Spanish who dominated from start to finish despite being hunted down by Australia, who finished second with Denmark close behind in third. New Zealand finished seventh.

In the fifth and final fleet race of the weekend, New Zealand found themselves “battling in the back with the British,” said Burling - eventually finishing sixth. With Spain scraping through to their first-ever podium final, the stage was then set for a Cinderella story in the port of Los Angeles.

Season 4 // Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix // Spanish team huddle to celebrate

In the winner-takes-all final, Spain quickly widened their lead on Australia and Denmark, finding themselves at one point more than 350 metres ahead. Denmark overtook the Aussies on the fifth of six legs, closing in on the Spanish but not enough to claim their own inaugural event win.

After finishing eighth overall last season, Spanish driver Diego Botin said: “We’ve been through a tough process and had some tough times, and obviously this is a huge motivation for us to win [this] event. It was quite an emotional day today.”

Reflecting on the weekend on the whole, Maloney said: “It’s been a really tough weekend for us as a team, just not sailing the boat as well as we needed to. The starting is the obvious one - everyone can see that - but all the small details as well where we needed to sail a lot more precisely around the race course.”

Burling echoed: “We felt like we had some good moments - some things coming together but not enough to get to the right end of the leaderboard, so plenty to go back and review while we get ready for the next one.”

“It was awesome to see Spain get their first win and I think that shows you how close this competition is. Denmark was a standout as well - they seemed to be sailing really well all weekend and made their pass on the Aussies in the final,” said Burling.

Maloney said Spain’s maiden victory was a warning to all teams on the circuit: “It’s getting harder than ever to win an event and anyone can win on a given weekend. We’ve just got to keep working to make sure we can get back to the top. We’ll go back, debrief the weekend, see what we can learn from our competitors while also looking back on our own data.”

SailGP returns in seven weeks - kicking off the European leg of the season championship on the sparkling blue waters of the French Riviera. The France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez will take place 9-10 September 2023 CET (10-11 September NZST).