Four teams may be in the hunt for just three spots in this weekend’s grand final race, but New Zealand driver Peter Burling said his Kiwi crew will be “worrying about themselves” as they head into the ultimate event of the season.
The Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final begins tomorrow, Saturday 6 May PDT (Sunday 7 May NZST). Five fleet races will precede the winner-takes-all final to determine the season champion. Australia has cemented its spot in the final three-boat shootout, with New Zealand 11 points behind in second - four points ahead of France, who sits just a single point ahead of Emirates Great Britain.
“For ourselves, we’re really happy with the progress we’ve made this season,” said Burling. “To have a few points up our sleeves puts us in a strong position, but our first job of the weekend is very much to put together five good fleet races and get through to the final.”
Burling isn’t entertaining potential outcomes in the “battle for third” between France and Emirates Great Britain either: “If you focus too much on any one team, it will usually end up that the other wins. We’ve had some good battles with all three teams and as a group, we really enjoy these moments where we can test ourselves against the best in the world.”
All nine teams hit the iconic waters of San Francisco Bay this afternoon for the first day of official practice racing. Wing Trimmer Blair Tuke said: “It was a good day out on the Bay, with winds around 25-30 kilometres per hour and a little further to the left, so gustier than you’d expect.”
“Friday is always important to set yourselves up and lay the foundations for the weekend. The team sailed really well in three solid races.”
Earlier in the day, SailGP also announced the winner of the podium for the planet - with the Denmark SailGP Team knocking the Kiwis off the top spot to win the Season 3 Impact League. Finishing second, New Zealand earned USD $35,000 for its charity partner, Live Ocean Foundation.
Congratulating the Danes, Tuke said: “Of course we’re disappointed not to win the Impact League. Our goal from the start of the season has been to try to stand on top of both podiums and we have fallen just short of that in the Impact League.”
“At the same time, I’m incredibly proud of the group - we’ve been the benchmark team in the Impact League since its inception. We know we’re doing a good job, so for the Danes to beat us we know they’re doing a good job too and we are raising the bar across the fleet.”
“It’s great to win $35,000 USD (around $55,000 NZD) to support the critical work of Live Ocean Foundation back home.”
Racing in San Francisco will begin at 09:30 NZST Sunday 7 and Monday 8 May, live on Sky Sport NZ. Racing will also be streamed via YouTube and the SailGP app.