PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM – 17 July 2021 – A new-look New Zealand SailGP Team is relishing the opportunity of racing at the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix in Plymouth tomorrow (live on Sky Sport NZ at 0100).
The New Zealand SailGP Team is without Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Erica Dawson, Josh Junior and Andy Maloney who are representing New Zealand at the Olympics (Maloney is coaching Junior).
James Wierzbowski comes onto the New Zealand F50 as flight controller after shadowing Maloney at the Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto, while Marcus Hansen replaces Junior as grinder.
It is the second SailGP event for driver Arnaud Psarofaghis and wing trimmer Jason Saunders who have replaced Burling and Tuke respectively. The interim duo impressed at the Italy Sail Grand Prix to claim New Zealand’s first ever victory, and Saunders believes the team is well placed to build on its performances in Plymouth.
“Certainly we want to build on what we did in Taranto, we’re all really proud of our effort there and we would love to have a similar result or better if we could,” Saunders said.
“We want to make sure we nail our roles on the boat and if everyone does that well then there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t be fighting at the front of the fleet.”
It was a challenging day of official practice racing today in tricky conditions which saw all teams once again reduced from five to three athletes onboard due to light winds - forcing athletes to multi-task and cover the grinding roles.
Saunders said: “We had anywhere from about 4-5 knots up to not much more than 8-9 knots so it was a very light sea breeze. Sometimes on the course there would be no wind at all so there were plenty of snakes and ladders and you could go from first to last within 12 seconds it seemed.
“We’re going to expect a bit more of that as well which will make it exciting on the TV because there will be some big changes to the leaderboard but we’ve just got to get off the line and nail the first mark and hopefully that’ll make things easier.”
Saunders said the team would have a good debrief this evening and learn a lot from today’s experience.
“It wasn’t our best day out there today, we made a few mistakes. We didn’t get our shifts right exactly which made things a bit more complicated than we needed but we should be in good shape tomorrow if we sail like we can and perform like we did in Taranto.
“With three on the boat we’ve got to optimise the manoeuvres a bit better and I think there will be a good debrief tonight. We’ve learned a lot and we should come out tomorrow and really be able to nail those manoeuvres and that will be able to help us get around the race track.”
Swiss driver Psarofaghis said he wanted to put in a strong performance for his adopted country.
“I really enjoy every minute I spend on the water with this team, even if we had a few bad races today. We can’t ask for much more than to sail this incredible boat and it’s a great experience. We’re going to try our best to do New Zealand proud tomorrow.”
Ahead of the racing kicking-off, earlier in the week SailGP announced the Impact League, a world-first integrated second leaderboard created for all eight international teams – one for sport and one for purpose – where they are rewarded for the positive actions they make to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing.
The New Zealand SailGP Team currently leads the Impact League.