New Zealand driver Peter Burling has reacted to the disastrous collapse of the Kiwi F50’s wing, admitting he has ‘no idea’ why it happened.
The incident occurred shortly after racing and saw the entire New Zealand F50 rig collapse - falling onto the starboard side of the boat. All crew were accounted for and no injuries were reported.
Speaking after racing, Burling said the incident happened as the F50 ‘touched down’ into the water - a maneuver the team had executed ’30-40 times today’. “We were just cruising by to say hi to a few friends at the end of the day and (…) we just heard and almighty bang and watched it all unravel,” he said.
Kiwi strategist Jo Aleh said she had been driving and handed the wheel back to Burling shortly before the incident.
“It just happened so quickly - we just saw the mast and sail coming down - there was nothing we could have done.”
Burling disagreed that the 29m wing was out of range in the wind conditions. “We’ve sailed the big wing in a little more breeze than that,” he said. “For us, we felt that we were in range and sailing it pretty normally - but obviously the results are quite different from normal.”
Both Aleh and Burling added that the team was ‘super lucky’ with where the wing landed.
“We were all on the starboard side of the F50,” Burling said, “we’re just thankful that no-one was in the middle of the boat where the middle part ended up.”
Following racing, the F50 was craned ashore and will be assessed by SailGP’s Tech Team. But the extent of the damage raises doubts over whether New Zealand will be able to compete on Race Day 2.
“It’s crazy to think how much has changed from where we were in the last race to where we are now but it’s in the hands of the Tech Team and the organizers to see what they can make happen tomorrow,” Burling said.
Only ROCKWOOL DEN sits above Burling's team in the leaderboard, with both teams on 21 points. Racing resumes at 15:00 CEST on September 10.