AARHUS, DENMARK – 21 August 2021 – The New Zealand SailGP Team made a solid start to the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix and is well in the hunt for the all-important podium race following a drama-filled day in Aarhus.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s outfit finished third, sixth and second in the three fleet races, but it was docked two points after a collision with the French boat in Race 3 to finish the day in fifth place overall – just four points adrift of leaders Australia.
There was plenty of drama before the teams even had a chance to line-up on the start line as the Spain SailGP Team capsized during its warmup.
No injuries were sustained but Kiwi Phil Robertson’s Spanish F50 incurred extensive damage which meant the team was unable to participate in the day’s racing, and the SailGP shore and technical teams will be working through the night to ensure it can be on the start line tomorrow.
The New Zealand SailGP Team returned to its full complement of athletes for the first time since the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix, and driver Peter Burling said he was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We’re definitely happy to get a few good points on the board and be able to mix it up at the front of the fleet which is obviously a massive step up from when this group was last together,” Burling said.
“It’s a real testament to the team to have kept building and learning during the last couple of events. We feel like we’ve progressed a lot since we last sailed together and a couple of things could have rolled our way today and made things a bit better which would have been nice.”
Wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: “It was a really exciting day out there. That was some of the most fun racing I’ve done. Great conditions here in Aarhus, plenty of shifts and plenty of passing opportunities.
“All-in-all it was a pretty good day. It was dampened a little bit once we got back ashore and realised we’d been docked a couple of penalty points for the incident we had with France but aside from that we’re really happy.
“We took some really good opportunities, started well and got to the reach mark in good position in two races. That said, we also left quite a few points out there at different stages, but to think from where we started this season it’s still a really solid day for us and a good confidence boost going forward.”
Four penalty points were allocated to Billy Besson’s France SailGP Team for the collision in Race 3, while the New Zealand SailGP Team was allocated two penalty points as the umpire deemed it could have avoided contact.
On the collision, Tuke said: “The penalty happened in the last race of the day coming into the top mark approach for the first time. We had an overlap with the French team. We were the leeward boat and they were the windward boat, which in sailing terms means they were the give-way boat. We were pretty close to them and as we were going along they did a bit of a skid on their foils and came down into us and put a bit of a dent in the bow of Amokura.
“We were in the right of way but SailGP has some pretty strict rules to try and avoid contact. It was quite difficult because we didn’t really feel like we had much time to get out of the way once they started skidding like that so it is a bit disappointing, but we now shift focus to getting ready for the first two fleet races tomorrow and giving ourselves a shot at the podium race
It was a brilliant start to the day for the ROCKWOOL Denmark SailSP Team as it celebrated its first ever SailGP victory in front of a vocal home crowd.
The New Zealand SailGP Team also started well, leading at the first mark before a small mistake saw it slip back to third.
Burling said: “We had a pretty good battle with Japan then we went the wrong way up the last leg and we got third and they got fifth so it just goes to show if you miss one shift you really do pay in this fleet.”
On the second race, Tuke said: “We made a bit of a mistake with thirty seconds to go at the start and the USA boat got below us and slowed us up from accelerating and from there we were behind. We had a couple of opportunities to catch up but the wind didn’t really go our way and we ended up off the back a bit too much. We were lucky to claw one place back and get the French team just on the line in that one but it was a bit of a tough race.”
Race 3 once again saw a thrilling start by the New Zealand SailGP Team who battled it out with Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain SailGP Team for the lead.
Burling said: “We got another good start following the British around and made a bit of an error at the top of the beat which put us back a long way from them and back into the pack which was a bit of a shame and then obviously we had a little tap with France. We thought we did everything we could to keep clear but obviously the umpires don’t agree with us there and their word is final so we got docked two points for that which is definitely a bit of a shame.”
Lighter conditions are forecast tomorrow which poses another challenge for the New Zealand SailGP Team.
Burling said: “It’s going to be quite a bit lighter tomorrow which is probably going to be more of a challenge for us, just because a big portion of our team hasn’t practiced in those conditions for a very long time and a lot of the other teams have these last two events, so for us it’ll just be about going out and learning the new setup and getting used to sailing again in a bit lighter breeze.”
You can watch Day 2 of the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix live on Sky Sport from 11pm tonight, with a full replay at 8.30am on Sunday morning. For full viewing details visit sailgp.com/watch.