Emirates GBR still aiming for Grand Final after dramatic day at ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix

New Zealand has reigned victorious at their home event after a weekend of delays, drama and dolphins. Emirates GBR finished the event in seventh place, but it would have been fifth had they not been handed penalty points for a collision with Spain during practice racing on Friday. They finished the three fleet races with a 4-3-8 result.

The ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix was condensed into one race day, after Saturday’s action was cancelled due to prolonged dolphin activity in the racecourse area. What Race Day One lacked in action, Race Day Two certainly made up for, with chaos and collisions on the racecourse. As the 10 teams prepared for the start of Race One, there was a three-way collision involving ROCKWOOL Denmark, Canada and the United States. The Danish team sustained damage to their bow but all three teams continued to race.

As the race began, France steamed through the fleet to cross the start line first and lead the pack to mark one. Emirates GBR had a solid start and were at the top of the fleet, avoiding the chaotic congestion at mark one that led to disaster for Australia. Aussie Driver Tom Slingsby had to make a sudden turn to avoid Canada and crashed into a race marker, causing severe damage to their F50 which rendered them out of action for the rest of the event.

Photo: Ricardo Pinto for SailGP.

France continued to lead until the home team New Zealand pulled some great manoeuvres to get ahead of Quentin Delapierre’s crew and take the win in the first race of their home event, keeping the Kiwi crowds happy. France came in second, followed by Spain and then Emirates GBR in fourth.

In Race Two, Emirates GBR was third across the start line, behind Switzerland and Canada. On leg three, The Brits put on a sterling performance and managed to overtake both teams to get into first position, what followed was a flip-flopping of first and second position with Phil Robertson’s Canadian team. Diego Botin’s Spanish crew then got into the mix, and it was a close race to the finish line between the three teams. Canada manged to secure the win, with Driver Phil Robertson stating: “I think I just became the favourite Kiwi” as he crossed the finish line. Spain finished in second, followed closely by Emirates GBR in third.