New Zealand driver Peter Burling has explained the technical problems that plagued the Kiwis during the first fleet race in Sydney and saw them finish at the back of the pack in ninth place.
The Kiwis, who were competing in a borrowed boat after theirs was damaged in a lighting strike, picked up an OCS penalty for crossing the start line early and struggled with technical difficulties throughout the first race.
Despite initially announcing their retirement from the race, the team continued to race and finished in ninth overall behind Spain.
Speaking after the event, Burling revealed the issues were specifically with the ‘starboard daggerboard’ and ‘the valve that holds pressure in the up-cylinder’. This valve, which is key to the operation of the board, was failing to close.
“We just kept cycling the board up and down and eventually it cleared itself, but we were miles behind at that stage,” Burling said. While the Kiwis made a good recovery, coming close to passing the Spanish, they ultimately finished in ninth overall. New Zealand went on to pick up decent third and fourth positions in the second and third races, but it wasn’t enough to finish the shortened event on the podium.
“I think the group did an amazing job to get a couple of solid results in races two and three but obviously it’s not good enough to get into the top three,” Burling said.
The team finished the event in sixth overall, losing its crucial points-buffer in the Championship leaderboard. Despite still sitting in second overall, the Kiwis have a slim-one point lead ahead of the French and is just three points ahead of Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team in fourth.
Burling admitted he was ‘gutted’ with the result. “If you have a mechanical failure, it will cost you those points, which is obviously pretty frustrating looking at how tight the leaderboard is.”
Looking ahead to the team’s first ever home event in next month’s ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch, Burling remained confident that the Kiwis are ‘the team to beat’.
“We’re just really excited about the challenge ahead, racing at our home event and making sure we make that season Grand Final to have a shot of wining the Championship.”