18 Jun 2023

New Zealand wins SailGP opener

2:04 pm on 18 June 2023
New Zealand SailGP Team in Chicago.

NZ SailGP boat in Chicago Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The New Zealand SailGP team has opened the new season with victory in Chicago.

Peter Burling's crew mastered tough conditions to finish ahead of Australia and Canada in the three boat final.

"This puts us obviously in a great position for the season, we're really happy to walk away with the win," Burling said afterwards.

"In this first one, you know it's going to be a long season and eventually it's going to come down to the last race we know but it's definitely nice to win a few along the way, this feels good."

It was first blood for Burling in one of the league's fiercest rivalries between himself and Australia skipper Tom Slingsby that had played out throughout last season.

Australia beat New Zealand in the grand final in San Francisco last month.

"Honestly we are really happy, it's a second place in the first event of the year. Of course we wanted to win, we felt like we sailed really well, and we had a good shot at it but the Kiwis were better in the final race so hats off to them," said Slingsby.

It was a day to remember for last season's two bottom placed finishers as Diego Botin's Spain and Sebastien Schneiter's Switzerland won the day's two fleet races. But the victories weren't enough to get them into the final which saw very light conditions - with the F50s in the 29 meter wing configuration - and a win for the Kiwis.

Canada finished fifth and second in the fleet races on day two which was enough to make it into the final, but the team never managed to get in front of its southern hemisphere rivals.

It remained an event to forget for the home team with Jimmy Spithill's United States finishing in ninth place in the standings.

Spithill said: "We need to learn the lessons and come out swinging in LA. If you look at last season what really hurt us was rotation. We are going to keep the team as locked as we can, take the lessons. It was just a couple of small mistakes yesterday that really cost us. But otherwise the team was sailing pretty well."

Season 4 continues with the inaugural Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix on July 22-23.


1 // New Zealand // 10 points

2 // Australia // 9 points

3 // Canada // 8 points

4 // ROCKWOOL Denmark // 7 points

5 // Spain // 6 points

6 // France // 5 points

7 // Emirates GBR // 4 points

8 // Switzerland // 3 points

9 // United States // 2 points

10 // Germany // 1 point