The New Zealand SailGP team got off to a good start at the United States Sailing Grand Prix T-Mobile | Chicago, Navy Pier, third overall with a total of 23 points at the end of the first day of fleet racing.
Finishing first in race one ahead of Great Britain in second and Canada in third, the Kiwis put up strong scores throughout the day on Lake Michigan, finishing fifth in race two and fourth in race three after a penalty for pushing aggressively against Australia’s Tom Slingby to get ahead on the final corner dropped them from third place.
Pilot Peter Burling was pleased with the team’s execution: “Our strategy this week has been to get out of line, navigate cleanly and avoid costly mistakes. Race one today was one of the first races where we were able to execute the start really well and it’s great to end the day with some solid scores.
The second race of the day was delayed due to problems with the rake control system, with the race management team giving an extra nine minutes to replace the hydraulic valve on Amokura’s starboard bow – an impressive replacement under pressure.
Burling said: “We had a lot of trouble with the rake system on the boat in the first race, so although we managed to get a really good lead at the first mark, we started having trouble right from the start. the first jibe and the rest of the race was much more difficult than it should have been. We were really lucky to have this extra time and the technical team did an incredible job changing the valve. It still didn’t seem quite right, but it was definitely better for the rest of the day.
Sitting at the top of the standings, Team Canada SailGP – helmed by Kiwi Phil Robertson – continued to shine in Chicago after a podium finish in Bermuda, finishing the day top of the overall standings with a total of 27 points, followed closely by Sir Ben Ainslie’s Great Britain with 26.
Regarding day two, Burling said: “Today was an amazing way to start – there was a good breeze and perfect direction for this venue and tight circuit. Tomorrow is going to be completely different with similar conditions to what we had yesterday. How the teams manage to put together a race in super light conditions will decide this event.
The action continues tomorrow on day two of the T-Mobile USA Sailing Grand Prix in Chicago. New Zealanders can watch NZT live at 7am on Monday June 20 on Sky Sport or live and on demand on YouTube.
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