While the sting of San Francisco may still burn, New Zealand SailGP Team wing trimmer Blair Tuke said it’s all the more motivation to “come back stronger” this weekend in Chicago.
“There’s no better place to start the season than here,” said Tuke. “Chicago is an amazing place to sail and we can’t wait to get into it.”
The Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier begins tomorrow, Fri 16 June CDT (Sat 17 Jun NZST). Today’s official rehearsal racing was cancelled due to high winds.
With only six weeks between seasons, Tuke said the Kiwis have made the most of the brief turnaround period: “Since San Francisco, the team is feeling ready to get back into it and come back stronger in Season 4.”
“The gap in seasons has given us a chance to look at how we sail and make decisions around the racetrack. It’s an opportunity to peel back some of the layers and think about how we might make bigger step changes at the start of the new season” said Tuke.
Asked about New Zealand’s plans to oust three-time SailGP champions Australia this year, driver Peter Burling said, “I think we’ll go about this season in a similar way - keep improving and putting the pressure on. Tom has done an amazing job with the Australian team and really setting that benchmark but this season, we’re looking to do one better.”
There will be 10 teams on the startline in Chicago for the first time ever, a milestone for the league and the German driver Erik Heil, who said the team was feeling both “nervous and relaxed” about the challenge of competing against the best in the world.
“We know we need to focus on ourselves the next couple of months for sure - progress is our highest goal. [The F50] is a great boat, such a fun boat, but we’ve been surprised how unstable it is at the beginning. If you look at the broadcast and you see the boats racing, it looks super clean so we have some work to do. The goal is to have the steepest learning curve that we can get.”
Heil is a familiar face to Burling and Tuke, having competed and podiumed alongside the pair in the 2012, 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games.
“It’s awesome to have the Germans join for Season 4. It’s going to really lift the competition and that’s a challenge we’re excited to take on,” said Tuke.
Thanks to a new exclusive partnership with Warner Bros. Discovery, more Kiwis will be able to enjoy the most exciting race on water - now free and easy to air in Aotearoa New Zealand.
“It’s amazing to see the support we got at our first event in Lyttelton and now to have a free to air broadcast partner helping to promote this amazing league and our sport is something we’re incredibly excited about,” said Burling.
The Rolex United States Sail Grand Prix will be live on ThreeNow on Saturday and Sunday beginning from 9AM, with delayed coverage on Three at 4.30PM each day.