ANDALUSIA-CÁDIZ, SPAIN – October 11, 2021 – The New Zealand SailGP Team won the first race in a fast and furious final day in Cádiz, but it wasn’t enough to secure a position in the winner-takes-all final as the team finished fifth at the Spain Sail Grand Prix.
There was no shortage of thrills and spills in the blustery 30-45 km/h conditions as blistering speeds and dramatic capsizes entertained another bumper crowd in the picturesque Andalusian town.
Tom Slingsby’s Australia SailGP Team once again reigned supreme, overcoming Great Britain and the USA in the final podium race after Sir Ben Ainslie’s British F50 spectacularly pitchpoled in the first reach.
The result leaves the New Zealand SailGP Team in fifth position on the overall season leaderboard with just two events remaining in Season 2.
There was drama before a race had even been sailed as hometown favourites the Spain SailGP Team capsized during the warmup.
All athletes were accounted for and no injuries were sustained, but their F50 incurred serious damage and they were unable to participate in the day’s racing.
Needing a good result after a disappointing day one, the New Zealand SailGP Team came out firing in fleet race four today.
Despite crossing the start line in last position, the team stormed through the fleet, notching a top speed of 85.3 km/h to fly into first position and secure a commanding victory.
However the team was unable to back up its performance in fleet race five, finishing sixth to dash any hopes of securing a position in the final podium race.
Wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: “It was a pretty full-on day to say the least. It was right at the top end of conditions with the 24-metre wing rather than the 18-metre wing as you saw with a couple of boats capsizing. It was pretty good for us to keep the wing in the air and from there to win race one was awesome. It was a huge moment for the team.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to back it up in the second race so that was disappointing. There have been a few ‘what-ifs’ for us this weekend which is a bit frustrating but to win a race today and sail like we did proves that we can do it, we just need to do it more often.”
Driver Peter Burling said: “It was great to get mine and Blair’s first win on the board. It felt like we executed everything except from the start in that first race and kept it pretty clean so it was really pleasing for us to come away with a race win after a pretty frustrating day yesterday.
“We feel like we’re getting better all the time but putting together a whole race has been our weakness. We generally have a couple of things that don’t go our way and that’s what showed in that second race.
“We felt like we were in a good position for a good race but we didn’t quite execute the first gybe well enough and fell off the back of the train and had a few other issues with the boat. The racing is so tight that if you make a mistake you really pay for it.”
Erica Dawson was onboard with the New Zealand SailGP Team in the sixth sailor position and was thrilled to win her first race.
“Today was insane, there were some super wild conditions. I was onboard and won my first race with the team which was awesome. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite pull it all together for the second race but all-on-all it was a pretty cool day.”
This weekend the team has been displaying a graphic of the Antipodean albatross on its boat as a symbol of the team’s commitment to shining a spotlight on the plight of the Antipodean albatross and working to stop their freefall to extinction.
The New Zealand SailGP Team and Live Ocean also jointly developed a video to bring greater awareness to the issue which you can view HERE.
The New Zealand SailGP Team now returns home to New Zealand before the Australia Sail Grand Prix in Sydney on December 17-18.
Tuke said: “The goal coming into the Spain Sail Grand Prix was to close up the points on the leaders and keep in touch for a place in the finale in San Francisco and we haven’t managed to do that, but we’ll keep fighting.
“The team is improving all the time but we’ve got to really work hard to put one of these weekends together. It’s disappointing as a whole for us this weekend but it was really nice to take the win today.”
You can watch a replay of the Spain Sail Grand Prix race day 2 at 12.30pm on Sky Sport Select.