SAINT-TROPEZ, FRANCE – 13 September 2021 – A disappointing final fleet race proved incredibly costly for the New Zealand SailGP Team as it missed out on its first podium race by a solitary point to finish the France Sail Grand Prix in fourth position.
A thrilling second place finish in today’s fourth fleet race added to the New Zealand SailGP Team’s string of consistent performances in Saint-Tropez which saw the Kiwis go into the fifth and final fleet race at the top of the leaderboard.
But a disastrous eighth place finish dashed the New Zealand SailGP Team’s hopes of making it into the winner-takes-all race.
Despite a strong start to the final by Jimmy Spithill’s USA SailGP Team, it was Nathan Outteridge’s Japan SailGP Team who prevailed in the lighter air to record its second victory of the season.
Wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: “We’re disappointed not to make the final race, that was the goal this weekend. We sailed well in four of the five fleet races but unfortunately we just couldn’t execute in that last one.”
Driver Peter Burling said: “It was a day of extremes. The real positive from this weekend is that when we sail the boat well we feel like we’re in the fight and we can move forward through the fleet but we just made a few too many mistakes in that last race.
“We didn’t really manage to catch any lucky breaks to get back into the race so it’s a bit disappointing to be in such a good position going into that last fleet race and then to miss out on the final but that’s yacht racing for you.”
Despite missing out on the final podium race, Burling believes his team is starting to build plenty of momentum with the same crew now together for two consecutive events.
“We’ve made huge strides forward in the way we’re sailing the boat and being competitive against the fleet,” Burling said.
“In that first event in Bermuda we were pretty lucky to come fifth but in these last couple of events it’s really felt like we’ve sailed well and had plenty of opportunities to get into that final race but we just haven’t been able to capitalise on it.”
Tuke agreed: “There are certainly a lot of positives to take out of this weekend. We’ve been building nicely, sailing well as a unit and we’re improving all the time. But at the same time there aren’t that many events left now so we need to start capitalising on sailing the boat like we are. We’ll keep working hard, we’ll debrief this event well and we’ll look ahead to the next event in Cádiz.”
This weekend’s result sees New Zealand in sixth position on the overall leaderboard after five events.
But with front runners Japan, the United States and Australia beginning to open up a lead at the front of the pack, Tuke knows his team needs to start banking some strong results.
“It’s vitally important if we want to continue our goal of reaching that final race in San Francisco that we start recording some strong results. We’ve done well in the first few events with the challenges the team has faced with crew rotation and we’re certainly building momentum and continuity as a unit, but we’ve got to start making that stick and the Spain Sail Grand Prix will be really important.”
The next event on SailGP’s global championship calendar is the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Cádiz, Andalusia on 9-10 October.