ZB

Finals drought goes on for Kiwi SailGP crew

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 20 Jun 2022, 9:10am
The New Zealand SailGP team had to settle for fourth place in Chicago. Photo / Jon Buckle / SailGP
The New Zealand SailGP team had to settle for fourth place in Chicago. Photo / Jon Buckle / SailGP

Finals drought goes on for Kiwi SailGP crew

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 20 Jun 2022, 9:10am

New Zealand's wait for an appearance in a SailGP podium race goes on.

It all started so well for Peter Burling's crew in Chicago for the second event of the new season, with a race win following by fifth and fourth-placed finishes on Sunday (NZT) seeing the side sit third with two races to go.

With lighter winds to contend with on Monday, they were able to hold their position with a fifth-placed finish in the penultimate fleet race – before all their good work earlier in the event was thrown away.

Only needing to finish sixth in the nine-strong fleet in the final race to confirm their participation in the podium race, the Kiwis got their start wrong and could not recover – finishing in eighth place. Australia, the two-time defending champions, won the last race and took the Kiwis' spot in the medal race by one point.

Joining the league at the beginning of last season, that makes it 10 events in which the New Zealanders have failed to make it into the medal race. Instead, it was the three teams who contested the final in Bermuda who were again the last three on the water in Chicago – with Australia beating Canada and Great Britain in the final.

The result sees the Australian crew sit perfect at the top of the standings with two race wins in as many events. The Kiwis sit fourth on the ladder.

It got off to a decent start for the Kiwis on Monday, who risked a wide start in the day's opener but had some success with their position in the fleet as a result. They were stuck in a duel for sixth and seventh against the Australians for most of the race, however Australia fell right back to the back of the fleet in the final legs and, while not an ideal result, they had positioned themselves well to break their finals drought.

They tried the same tactic in the starting gate for the final race and looked to have good speed coming to the line. However, a mistake saw them lose that momentum and get stuck on the outside of the rest of the fleet and unable to make a manoeuvre in the opening leg until the teams underneath them had.

That put them on the backfoot immediately and, while some teams had been able to make up ground through the fleet in the light winds earlier, the Kiwis had no such success. It became a matter of watching where Australia and Denmark were in the pack – given both teams could overtake the Kiwis.

It became quickly apparent the Kiwis would not be making the final race as Australia flew ahead of the pack. Ultimately, New Zealand crossed the line in eighth for the final fleet race, a result that will undoubtedly leave a sour taste in the mouth of the team.

They will now have a month between events, with the next stop in Great Britain at the end of July.