Sell-out home support has buoyed Peter Burling’s New Zealand to the top of the leaderboard on the first day of racing in Christchurch, with the Kiwis dominating fleet racing.
New Zealand combated gusty conditions to dominate the day, finishing with a 2-1-2 racing record against the dramatic backdrop of Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour.
The Kiwis arguably had the most impressive comeback of the day, battling back from a pre-start penalty in the third fleet race to finish second overall and cement their commanding position at the top of the fleet.
Phil Robertson’s Canada sits second heading into day two after winning the third fleet race, while consistent 3-4-3 results place Ben Ainslie’s Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team in third.
With no pre-event practice racing, crews lacked familiarity with the racecourse, resulting in plenty of close boat-on-boat action, tight crosses and near misses.
Familiar rivals Australia and New Zealand went head to head throughout the day, but technical problems scuppered the Aussies’ chances in the third fleet race, resulting in an uncharacteristic ninth place finish. The Aussies sit in fifth overall heading into day two, leaving them with work to do.
France kicked off the event with intention, picking up the first race win with a dominating performance. But Quentin Delapierre’s crew suffered communication difficulties in the second fleet race, and finished the day just outside the top three with 21 points.
Elsewhere, it was a disappointing day for Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark, which sits fifth on the overall Championship leaderboard heading into Christchurch.
But a slew of disappointing results on day one damaged the Danes’ last-minute chances of securing a place in San Francisco’s three-boat, winner-takes-all Final, leaving them in eighth overall heading into day two.
The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch will resume on Sunday at 15:00 NZDT. Full broadcast information and How To Watch details are HERE.