New Zealand will be buoyed by the confidence of two practice race wins heading into this weekend’s event. The Spain Sail Grand Prix begins tomorrow Saturday 14 October CEST in Cádiz.
The Kiwis came out firing in race one, winning the sprint to mark one to eventually finish cleanly ahead of the rest of the fleet. Denmark was close behind in second with Germany in third - a standout performance for the team who was being coached land-side by team investor and Formula 1 superstar, Sebastian Vettel.
New Zealand also won practice race three, surging to the front of the pack to finish once more with a significant lead on its competitors. But it was the race in between - race two, in which the Kiwis finished fourth - that flight controller Andy Maloney said was especially sweet.
“We were sailing the boat really well in general today. We had two really good starts, and one where we were a little bit wide at mark one. But I think the most pleasing thing about today was just getting fourth in that race where we were quite a bit further back.”
New Zealand hit the water for an afternoon of training and commissioning its new wingsail yesterday, but today’s practice racing marked the first time going head to head with all ten teams on the water.
“It was a good day for us and really fun to be back out there with the fleet and getting amongst it. We were sailing the boat really well - now we just can’t wait to get stuck into the real thing tomorrow,” said Maloney.
Today’s performance may not have shown any evidence of dust to be shaken off, but New Zealand driver Peter Burling said they wouldn’t be taking anything for granted heading into tomorrow.
“We know from experience how tough it can be to jump back into racing after some in our team missed event(s) during the Olympic period in Season 2,” said Burling.
“For us, looking ahead to the forecast in light air and with the 29-metre wing unavailable, we know we’ll likely be using a slightly different configuration than we typically would. So, we’re reviewing all the footage and notes to make sure we’re as prepared as we can be.”
“That’s the whole thing with SailGP - you have such limited time to prepare, so you need to be able to switch on and get to the front of the fleet. That’s our entire motivation this weekend,” Burling said.
The Spain Sail Grand Prix begins in less than 24 hours, tomorrow (Sunday) at 1.30am NZST - with live coverage only on ThreeNow. Fans can catch the full replay in app, or on Three (linear) at 4.30pm.
Cádiz marks the third and final event of the European leg of the SailGP championship before SailGP’s recently-announced return to Dubai for the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix, presented by P&O Marinas (9-10 Dec 2023).