PLYMOUTH, UNITED KINGDOM – 19 July 2021 - New Zealand SailGP Team interim driver Arnaud Psarofaghis is proud of the team’s effort at the Great Britain Sail Grand Prix despite a disappointing seventh place finish in Plymouth this morning.
The reshaped New Zealand team, missing five frontline athletes who are representing New Zealand at the Olympics, produced a stunning performance in fleet race five to clinch a second place finish and remain in contention for the final podium race.
However the New Zealand SailGP Team misjudged the start of race six, getting squeezed out at the start line and never quite recovering to finish in last place.
Normal service resumed for defending champions the Australia SailGP Team who bounced back from a disappointing result at the Italy Sail Grand Prix to reign supreme in Plymouth as Tom Slingsby showed he can still perform in lighter winds.
The result sees the Australians perched atop the overall SailGP standings after three events, with New Zealand slipping to last place on the ladder.
But with only five points separating the top and bottom teams, there is still everything to play for with six events remaining.
Psarofaghis said: “I’m really proud of the team’s effort. It was the first time for all of us sailing together this week so we can walk away here happy with what we’ve achieved. Unfortunately the last race and the result doesn’t show our progress throughout the week but it’s a tight fleet. You’ve only got to make one mistake and you’re at the back of the fleet. It’s a long season so anyone can win from now.”
Interim wing trimmer Jason Saunders said: “It was a day to play with the emotions. The first race went so well for us after an awesome start. Arnaud did a really good job and the rest of the team was sailing the boat nicely around the racetrack so we were really happy with that.
“It would have been nice to have another good race but unfortunately in the second race we had a really tough start. In these boats with this quality of fleet if you have a bad start, and we were last at the first mark, you’re fighting for seventh in the race. We did everything we could and we’re a little bit disappointed with the result but the way we sailed especially in the first race today shows that we have a lot of promise.”
Saunders said the team should take plenty of confidence from being just five points adrift of the top placed Australia SailGP Team at this stage in the competition.
“If you’d told the Kiwis at the start of the season that we’d only be five points away from that position now I think everyone would have taken it because no one knew how to sail these boats and it’s gone better than expected. I think with Pete and Blair and a lot of the other team coming back for the next event there’s absolutely no reason why they shouldn’t be fighting for the podium at the end of the season.”
With Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Erica Dawson, Andy Maloney and Josh Junior returning to the New Zealand SailGP Team for the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix in August, Psarofaghis, Saunders and interim flight controller James Wierzbowski will now depart the team.
Reflecting on his time over the last few months, Saunders said: “It’s been the best sailing I’ve ever done. The boats are incredible, the team has such a good atmosphere and it’s been a pleasure to work with everyone.
“I’m a bit sad it’s finished for the moment but I’m also proud of how we did even though the last result was probably not quite what we expected. I certainly learned a lot and I’d love to be back involved at some point in the future.”
Psarofaghis agreed: “I’ve learned so much during the last two events, the group was perfect. They welcomed me in with open arms and I will walk away with a lot of experience, a lot of lessons learned and a huge amount of positive stuff. You learn from the bad things and that’s what makes you stronger next time.”