Dramatic race day in Saint-Tropez as New Zealand wing collapses

No athletes injured in incident after New Zealand had finished day one second in standings behind ROCKWOOL Denmark at France Sail Grand Prix

SAINT-TROPEZ – September 9, 2023 – The New Zealand SailGP Team faces a race against time to compete on day two of the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez after its wing collapsed moments after the day’s final race.

It had up to that point been a good day for Peter Burling and his team as they had ended the day second overall in the standings behind Nicolai Sehested’s ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP Team. An assessment of the New Zealand boat is still ongoing and no athletes sustained any injuries in the incident.

Burling said: “I’ve honestly got no idea [why it failed], on board we weren’t doing anything different, we were just gently touching the boat in and coming up on course and we were just cruising to say hi to a few friends at the end of the day. It’s crazy to think from where we were right after the last race how much has changed to where we are now but it’s just in the hands of the tech team now and the organizers to see what they can make happen tomorrow.”

Strategist Jo Aleh said: “It just happened so quickly I just saw the mast and the sail coming back at us and I mean there was nothing we could have done and we were just super lucky with where it landed. We’ll keep working on it and I’m sure we’ll come back strong.”

Speaking after the day’s racing, all drivers expressed their relief no one was hurt and were keen to see what news an assessment of the damage brought. United States driver Jimmy Spithill said: “I think we all take it for granted, as athletes, you just get so comfortable at these super high speeds, in these massive boats, but these things can happen, we push these boats to the edge.”

On a day where teams struggled for consistent results ROCKWOOL Denmark bucked the trend and sailed well in the tricky conditions to top the standings. Sehested said: “As a race day for us it actually felt pretty average, to be honest, but I think most teams have felt like that out there. It’s so shifty and there were so many up and down races. I don’t think anyone had a really clean day. So I think it might be alright points wise for us, but it didn’t feel that good.”

Rediscovering the form that saw it win the Saint-Tropez event last year, the United States won the day’s third race and sits in third place on the overall standings, equal on 20 points with Ben Ainslie’s Emirates Great Britain.

The home team had one of its better races of the season so far to be well in contention for an event final appearance, Quentin Delapierre’s team now sitting in fifth place on 19 points. It was a debut day for new flight controller Jason Saunders, with the French team’s gamble of bringing him in mid-season seeming to reap immediate dividends. Season standing leaders Australia won the day’s second race but sit in sixth place after inconsistent performances in the other two races.

On a day not short of drama, Spain and Canada collided in the day’s first race, with Phil Robertson seeing his team’s event all but ended with a 10 point penalty. It sits in tenth place on the event standings with 1 point.

Robertson said: “It was odd, Spain didn’t even bother to try and turn out of the way, I expected them to start turning, and look, we made a mistake, I turned too late, so yes it was an error on our part, but I’m still a little puzzled we have been penalized so heavily.”

Diego Botin’s Spain finished the day in seventh despite the incident, with Erik Heil’s Germany having one of its better days on the water to sit in eighth, two points ahead of Sebastian Schneiter’s Switzerland.

The France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez continues at 1:30pm local time tomorrow, September 10, and can be seen live on Canal Plus Sport 360 in France. For details on how to watch around the globe visit SailGP.com/watch.

Day Two Racing: Sunday, September 10, 1:30 p.m – 3:00 p.m. Central European Summer Time

1// ROCKWOOL Denmark 21 points
2// New Zealand 21 points
3// United States 20 points
4// Emirates Great Britain 20 points
5// France 19 points
6// Australia 19 points
7// Spain 16 points
8// Germany 11 points
9// Switzerland 9 points
10// Canada 1 point*
*Canada penalized 10 points for making contact with Spain SailGP Team

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