New Zealand overtakes Australia as overall season leaders

New Zealand’s ‘Black Foils’ – driven by Peter Burling – today claimed victory in front of an adoring hometown crowd at the the second-annual ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch. 
After the cancellation of racing yesterday, SailGP implemented a ‘Super Sunday’ race format, consisting of three fleet races and then a winner-takes-all final podium race.
The first race of the day went the way of hometown favorites, the Black Foils, with New Zealand taking the lead on the start and finishing by overtaking France on the final mark to claim the opening victory on Lyttelton Harbour.
Critically, season leader Australia was ruled out of the event following a collision with a course mark just after the start, leaving them with event-ending damage to the green and gold F50. With the team heading into this weekend’s racing in first place on the leaderboard, it was clear that this result would change the dynamic for the entire event.
Driver Tom Slingsby said: “The moment was a blur.  As we rounded the mark we had two boats on our inside and we looked like we were going to hit Canada. The decision was so quick but keeping the team safe is the most important thing so we went straight for the mark. It hasn’t really sunk in yet and the results are what they are, I’m just glad that all our people are safe.”
Race two went the way of Canada – with native Kiwi driver Phil Robertson at the wheel. The race felt from the get go that it really was Canada’s race with Robertson in jest telling the crowd of his victory, “I think I just became the favorite Kiwi putting the Aussies out of the running in the first race.” 
The third and final race to the podium saw Quentin Delapierre’s France take the win, resulting in three races with three different winners – France, New Zealand and defending champions Canada – set to go head-to-head in the three-boat podium final.
After a great day of high octane racing, full of drama, the teams set for the winner-takes-all final, with Burling and the Black Foils heading into the race at the top of the event leaderboard.
A strong start from the Kiwis saw Canada having to keep clear of them on the line, with the Black Foils taking the first mark with France in hot pursuit. Canada split the pack after the second mark, a decision that caused them to trail for the remainder of the race and allowing the Black Foils to take a strong early lead, ahead of France, which they held onto for the duration of the race.
Leading on the course all the way to the finish, Burling took the finish line in a convincing fashion, crossing to an explosive reaction of the 11,000 strong home crowd as the Black Foils cemented themselves as the event winners, and with it took the overall lead on the season leaderboard.
Burling said: “Today has been the best day in SailGP history and to come out on the right side of it after such a battle to get into the final is something I am just blown away by. Being able to sail in front of our home crowd is something we have been looking forward to all season and to take out today in front of them has been incredible.” 
On coming in third place, in front of his home crowd, Robertson said: “We were so close to nailing the start of the final, we had a plan and were so close to exiting it and the Kiwis just did a really good job to get a tiny hook on us. We come away from the weekend one place higher on the leaderboard and are closing on the top three so all in all a great weekend.”
The win for New Zealand and the resulting penalty points awarded to Australia for the damage caused in race 1 – a total of eight season points – sees the Kiwi’s top the overall leaderboard, nine points in front of Australia. However, Australia have requested a points penalty review.
Another team to slide down the overall leaderboard following the weekend’s racing was Nicolai Sehested’s ROCKWOOL Denmark who was docked four season points for an incident at the start of the first race with Canada, causing substantial damage to the bow of the Danish F50. Sehested now resides in fifth overall.

With over 22,000 fans in attendance over the weekend, the ITM New Zealand Grand Prix was the largest ever ticketed individual sailing event. The league now moves to the tenth stop of the season – the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix – on May 5-6. For full details visit


Event penalties 

  • Emirates Great Britain penalized eight points for making contact with Switzerland SailGP Team during practice racing
  • Australia SailGP Team penalized 12 points for making contact causing boat damage with racecourse mark during Fleet Race 1. Review in process.
  • ROCKWOOL Denmark penalized eight points for making contact with Canada SailGP Team during Fleet Race 1

1 – NEW ZEALAND – 68
2 – AUSTRALIA – 59
3 – SPAIN – 55
4 – FRANCE – 54
6 – USA – 48
7 – CANADA: 46
9 – GERMANY – 27

Season penalties

  • Australia SailGP Team – docked eight points in Season Championship for 12-point penalty at ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
  • Canada SailGP Team – docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
  • Emirates Great Britain – docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
  • Germany SailGP Team – docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix
  • ROCKWOOL Denmark – docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch
  • Spain SailGP Team – docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía – Cádiz
  • Switzerland SailGP Team – docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council

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