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NZ SailGP team win in Christchurch; Australia crash out

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Sun, 24 Mar 2024, 5:14PM

NZ SailGP team win in Christchurch; Australia crash out

Christopher Reive,
Publish Date
Sun, 24 Mar 2024, 5:14PM

SailGP’s wild weekend on the waters of Lyttelton Harbour was brought to a crowd-pleasing conclusion.

After having to wait a full day for racing after Saturday’s schedule was called off due to dolphin activity on the course, the Black Foils hoisted the event trophy at their home event.

Finishing in second at the global foiling league’s debut New Zealand stop last year at the same venue, the New Zealand crew went one better this year as they topped France and Canada in the podium race.

With Saturday’s three-race schedule canned, an additional fleet race was added to Sunday’s two original races, with the 10 teams competing three timees before the top three on the leaderboard contested the medal race.

Things got off to a hectic start on Sunday afternoon in breezy conditions, with Canada, the United States and Denmark all coming in close quarters in the starting box but doing well to avoid a major collision.

The league-leading Australians, however, were not so lucky. Tom Slingsby’s crew didn’t make it through a single leg of the event as they ran over the top of a marker in a bid to avoid colliding with the Canadians. Their boat was damaged as a result and they spent the rest of the race as an obstacle for the rest of the fleet to avoid.

The damage could not be mended quickly and they were unable to sail again in the event.

Harsh as it may be, that was ideal for the Kiwi crew as they looked to close the gap on the Australians on the season leaderboard. Slingsby’s crew went into Christchurch with an eight-point lead on the Kiwis, but took a solitary point for a last-placed finish.

The Kiwis winning the event meant they bagged 10 points for the season tally and took over at the top of the standings.

The Black Foils signalled their intentions early with a quick start in the opening race of the day alongside France. They did, however, find themselves stuck out wide while the French had the inside line.

The French looked set to run away with the opening race, but an impressive fifth leg saw the Kiwis soar through the fleet and take the lead. They held onto it for the remaining two legs and finished fourth in race two.

The Kiwis sailed much of the third race in fourth - behind the other three - but again timed their run perfectly and finished second behind the French, before reversing that in the final.

With four events left in the season, the Kiwis are well-positioned to contest the three-boat Grand Final, in which the top teams on the season contest a one-race shootout for the US$2 million ($3.3m) prize.

Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.

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