AARHUS, DENMARK - 18 August 2021 - The New Zealand SailGP Team’s Olympians made a successful return to SailGP today as they hit the water for their first training session in Aarhus ahead of the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix (August 20-21).
Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Josh Junior and Andy Maloney have all re-joined the team following their Olympic campaigns, while Erica Dawson has returned to New Zealand and is set to re-join the team for the France Sail Grand Prix in September.
The team was thrust into a challenging first day in Aarhus, launching Amokura in a strong 25 knot breeze with its 18-metre wing fitted.
New Zealand SailGP Team wing trimmer Blair Tuke said it was fantastic to be back.
“It’s great to be back on tour with the New Zealand SailGP Team in Aarhus,” Tuke said. “It’s a place we’ve sailed quite a lot in the Olympic disciplines so it’s nice to be here with SailGP. It was the first day on the water today and we were straight back into it with 25 knots so it was a difficult day but great fun, the boat was awesome and it was good to get the feeling for it again.”
Driver Peter Burling said: “It was really cool to get out there today. It was definitely right at the top end of the conditions. It wasn’t the easiest day to ease back into it but we were taking it pretty easy making sure we kept the boat in one piece, trying to get comfortable going in a straight line again and getting a good feel for the boat.”
Burling and Tuke sat out the last two SailGP events to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games where they won silver, and the duo believes the team has made significant strides forward.
Tuke said: “Over the last three events the team has grown a huge amount. In Bermuda we were really thrown in at the deep end. The boat was brand new, we were coming together as a unit for the first time so it was pretty challenging. Since then, the last couple of events the team has done really well. We’ve grown on the whole not just from a sailing point of view but how we operate on the shore side as well.
Burling said: “It’s been a great opportunity for the rest of the team to keep upskilling, people like Marcus [Hansen] and Louis [Sinclair] have really been able to step up into roles and learn a lot. The shore crew has been getting the boat in a lot better shape which is an important part of this event so it’s great to come back in and take on board those learnings from the last couple of events and keep progressing as the season goes on.”
While the New Zealand SailGP Team currently sits in eighth position on the leaderboard, only five points separates it from the first-placed Australia SailGP Team so the competition is still wide open.
Tuke said: “There’s plenty more racing to go. We’re not that far off the front of the leaderboard but it’s super tight so we need to keep growing as a unit. It’s not going to be easy for us coming back this week either with only a couple of days training but it’s a long season and we’ve just got to keep trying to improve.
Burling said: “Our main goal for the weekend is to utilise all the learnings we’ve made over the last three events and try to string together some good races. The leaderboard is incredibly tight at the moment so we know just a few events could put us right at the top of it and our goal is really to get to that top three by San Francisco to get a shot at the title.”
You can watch all the action from the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix live on Sky Sport from 0100 NZT on Saturday August 21. For full viewing details visit sailgp.com/watch