TARANTO, ITALY – 7 June 2021 - The New Zealand SailGP Team came within just two points of qualifying for the final podium race in an impressive outing on day two of the Italy Sail Grand Prix.
With all teams restored to the full complement of five athletes onboard the F50 for the two fleet races, the New Zealand SailGP Team got off to a thrilling start to claim its first ever victory in race four in Taranto.
The victory kept New Zealand in close contention for the final podium race but it was unable to back up the performance in race five as a few mistakes proved costly and Spain edged ahead to secure its place in the winter-takes-all final.
The Japan SailGP Team once again dominated racing on day two, winning race five before overcoming the USA SailGP Team and the Spain SailGP Team in the final to be crowned Italy Sail Grand Prix champions.
The result sees the New Zealand SailGP Team finish the Italy Sail Grand Prix in fourth position and in fourth place overall on the leaderboard after two events.
Flight controller Andy Maloney said he was thrilled with the team’s performance in Italy.
“Today was awesome. We’ve been building all week and trying to learn every night and today it was great to see it all come together in some tricky conditions. Winning our first race as a team was pretty cool,” Maloney said.
Driver Arnaud Psarofaghis said: “I’m feeling really happy about the day. We won the first start and we won the first race for New Zealand so that was really nice. JJ (Josh Junior) did a really good job to find a nice puff and a good lane to sail upwind and downwind in the first race and everyone worked really well together.”
On race five where the New Zealand SailGP Team finished seventh, Maloney said: “We were right in amongst it going up the first upwind of that second race and unfortunately we just got caught up in the pack a little too much. We got a penalty on the second upwind and couldn’t quite shake it quickly enough and that was the difference at the end of the day. It was hard to fight back into it from there but the team still dug deep and managed to sail a great rest of the race.”
Maloney praised new recruits Psarofaghis and Jason Saunders who have joined the team for the Italy Sail Grand Prix and Great Britain Sail Grand Prix while Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are in the final stages of their Olympic preparations.
The new athletes in the team at this event have gelled really well with the rest of the group and Arnaud did a great job in those light winds,” Maloney said. “He’s done a lot of multi-hull sailing and a lot of reaching starts. He comes from Switzerland where there’s a lot of light winds so I think his experience shone through in those starts today and I thought he did a really great job.”
Maloney and Josh Junior will sit out the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix (Plymouth, 17-18 July) as Junior heads to the Tokyo Olympics to represent New Zealand in the Finn class, with Maloney as his coach.
Shadowing Maloney this week was James Wierzbowski who was the flight controller for the China SailGP Team in Season 1 and will replace Maloney in Plymouth.
Maloney believes the team is in good hands.
“We’ve learned a lot here that will put us in good stead going into Plymouth. James Wierzbowski has been able to teach me a lot about the flight control even this week so having him jump onboard in Plymouth I think the team is going to be in a great place.”