New Zealand to be granted an automatic fifth in Taranto

SailGP has confirmed New Zealand will be granted a fifth-place finish – or six season points – for the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto.

The Kiwis were rendered unable to compete in the fourth event of the season late last week when it was determined the league could not feasibly transport and fit out a replacement wing sail for the team in time for this weekend’s event, following the structural failure of the team’s wing sail in Saint-Tropez.

The points were awarded as SailGP could not provide the necessary replacement parts in order for the New Zealand team to compete in Taranto. SailGP has now amended its rules so that up to six points can be awarded by the class authority for each of the events missed if a team sustains an equipment breakdown and it is not able to supply the necessary replacement parts to get the team back on the water.

New Zealand driver and co-CEO Peter Burling said he was disappointed the decision was based on average points across the fleet, rather than the team’s performance so far this season.

Burling said: “It’s frustrating that in this instance, organisers haven’t considered our performance in Chicago, Los Angeles and on day one in Saint-Tropez. It means that on top of a bad result in Saint-Tropez because we weren’t able to compete on day two, we’re also now carrying a fifth heading into Cádiz and the rest of the season.”

Burling said, “At the same time, we’re ready to accept it and move on. This is what’s been decided – it’s good to get something and have provisions in place if this were to happen again.”

Alongside race management, all team CEOs were consulted on the decision. Asked his views on whether or not the Kiwis should receive compensatory points for this weekend’s event, Australian driver and team CEO Tom Slingsby said he felt divided.

“It’s a hard one to answer – competitive Tom is saying no and bad luck and move on, but realistic Tom is saying I understand that they didn’t really make any mistake there.”

“At the moment the result is decided on the water and I think that’s a big improvement on previous editions and sailing leagues but at the same time SailGP doesn’t have spares, and they can’t just head out on the next day with a new wing, so personally I do believe they should be compensated for that with some sort of redress,” Slingsby said.

SailGP is now working towards a solution to get Amokura back on the startline in Cádiz, 14-15 October CEST. Once the wing sail arrives from New Zealand, it will require extensive setup and testing on-site to ensure Amokura is fully race ready.

New Zealand wing trimmer and co-CEO Blair Tuke said: “It’s obviously gutting to miss this weekend’s event but we’re looking forward to getting back on the racecourse and showing what we can do in Cádiz.”

“Our fans have rallied behind us – and behind Amokura – before and we’ll be pushing harder than ever to get our season back on track,” Tuke said.

The ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto begins today (Saturday) at 1.30pm local time.

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