The stage is set for SailGP’s Asian debut, with teams gearing up for light, challenging winds and high-stakes racing in front of the stunning Singaporean skyline. The action begins today at 7PM NZDT.

Second on the leaderboard behind two-time SailGP champions Australia, the New Zealand SailGP Team will be feeling the heat in more ways than one.

Penalised for contact with the Americans during training on Thursday, the Kiwis will enter raceday 1 with four points docked from the event leaderboard. The penalty comes after the Kiwis hopes of a podium finish in Dubai were dashed following a similar incident with the Swiss.

Season 3 // Singapore Sail Grand Prix // New Zealand SailGP Team in practice

In yesterday’s pre-event press conference, Driver Peter Burling said, “It was a little frustrating yesterday to have a tap with the USA during training, but the rules are the rules and you have to play to them. It’s a challenging one but it’s going to be a long weekend ahead and we’re looking forward to putting our best foot forward and making the most of it.”

While the Singapore Sail Grand Prix may mark the start of the new year, it’s at the final push of the global SailGP championship with only three events to go before the Season 3 final in San Francisco - Singapore (14-15 Jan), Australia (18-19 Feb) and New Zealand’s inaugural home race, the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch (18-19 Mar).

And with so few opportunities to climb the leaderboard, teams will be doing everything they can to maximise every opportunity.

“We’re really excited to be in Singapore for the first Asian stop. Everyone’s preparing for light air configurations which should make for very interesting racing,” said Burling.

In light winds, SailGP not only implements its 29-metre wing configuration across the fleet, but crew numbers also drop from six to four - with the Liv Mackay remaining on the boat to take up grinding duties while Josh Junior, Louis Sinclair and Marcus Hansen (the latter of whom share a grinding position) step off to reduce weight.

New Zealand SailGP Team Grinder Josh Junior said the Kiwis were up for the challenge, “Singapore is a really tricky place to sail, with lots ofships and tall buildings. The weather forecast is pretty light but we’re ready for that and have been working on strategies to race better and sail the boat faster, especially in the ‘four up’ configuration.”

Fans can catch all the action this weekend on Sky Sport NZ, with live racing at 7PM on Saturday and Sunday. Racing will also be available live and on-demand on YouTube. Fans in Auckland are invited to Schapiro’s Sports Bar, to soak up the atmosphere of raceday one at our official watch party, beginning tonight at 7PM.