New Zealand has bounced back with a fourth in Cádiz after a nail-biting fifth fleet race in which the team just missed out on a spot in the final. The United States, who scraped through in third, went on to win the weekend.
New Zealand now sits sixth on an increasingly competitive season leaderboard. Just two points separate third (USA with 32 points) and sixth (Kiwis with 30).
Coming out firing after a disappointing first day, New Zealand raced ahead in fleet race four, finishing second behind Denmark in first and critically, ahead of the United States and Spain who finished third and fourth respectively.
Fleet race five was poised as a battle for third. With just one point separating New Zealand (25 points), the USA and Spain (26 points each), the Kiwis needed to beat both by only one position to secure a spot in the final. Overtaking the USA on the final mark, it looked clear for the Kiwis until the team copped a penalty for not keeping clear of Emirates GBR - a move driver Peter Burling said was “unnecessary.”
“We did a really good job to get back to the Americans then setting up for a gybe to the last mark and Ben obviously took the opportunity we gave him. From our side, it was pretty easy for Ben to go up a couple of degrees and not make it an incident seen as we were on different legs. Obviously he wanted to block us out of the final and he did a nice job of that,” Burling said.
“You see how little battles in the fleet unfold - like what you have with Canada and Spain at the moment. We thought it was a bit unnecessary but we were in the wrong and not much you can do.”
“We’re really proud of how we were sailing the boat today; improving our speed and putting the boat in some good spots. In the end though, it just wasn’t enough to make it stick,” Burling said.
Forced to drop back 19 metres, New Zealand’s podium hopes were dashed while Jimmy Spitthill’s American crew sailed away into the final alongside Denmark and Australia.
Reflecting on the Spanish event, the first time New Zealand has raced since the structural failure of its wingsail in Saint-Tropez, Burling said: “A fourth for us this weekend is a good result, and a good way for us to bounce back after some time not racing.”
Cádiz marks the third and final stop in the European leg of the global racing championship. The most exciting race on water returns to the middle east for the recently-announced Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix, presented by P&O Marinas, taking place 9-10 December 2023.
“If Dubai is anything like last year, we can look forward to some really nice breeze and a tight racecourse - it will make for lots of good action. Last year we had a really good event in Dubai and we’ll be looking to back that up again this year,” Burling said.
Fans can catch a full replay of today’s racing on-demand in the ThreeNow app, or watch a full replay on Three (linear) at 4.30pm.