Saturday March 26, San Francisco - The New Zealand SailGP Team had a frustrating opening day at the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix in San Francisco today.
With huge crowds gathered to watch the action on a fine spring afternoon, New Zealand started strongly to finish third in the first fleet race, and battled hard to claim fifth in the second, but a disappointing last place to end the day proved incredibly costly.
Against the backdrop of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, Japan’s Nathan Outteridge and Australia’s Tom Slingsby renewed their rivalry with top-class performances to each claim 18 points and finish the day first and second respectively.
New Zealand is seven points adrift of the leaders on 11 points and will be looking for a big performance on day two to try and improve its standing in the final SailGP event of the season.
Driver Peter Burling said: “In all the races we felt like we were right in the mix and then just made some little mistakes that really cost us,” he said.
“In saying that we were also pushing the boat the hardest we ever have and taking on tricky manoeuvres and being aggressive on the racetrack so there are a lot of positives to take out of today.
“It felt like we were sailing the boat as well as we ever have but we just need to tidy up those little errors. It’s the most frustrating thing looking back on the day as we could have easily had three top three finishes if we’d executed how we wanted.”
Weather conditions are expected to be even trickier tomorrow with big puffs and shifts on the racecourse, and Burling is determined for his side to finish the season strongly.
“We’ll debrief tonight and look at all the little details we need to work on to make sure we come out firing tomorrow, but it’s looking like it’s going to be a completely different day on San Francisco Bay. The breeze is a lot further left so you’ll see a lot more big puffs and lulls with big gains and losses, so it really will be the team who can adapt and execute the best that will take out the event win tomorrow.”
Before racing today, the New Zealand SailGP Team unveiled the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 14 – Life Below Water icon on its wing.
The icon symbolises the team’s commitment to championing action for a healthy ocean and will remain on the team’s boat until the UN Ocean Conference held in Lisbon in June.
You can watch all the action from day two of the Mubadala United States Sail Grand Prix including the winner-takes-all Grand Final race live on Sky Sport and free-to-air at nzherald.co.nz/sailgp from 10am on Monday morning.