New Zealand Sail GP crew chase third win

Two on the trot is good, but three on the bounce is even better.

The New Zealand SailGP team during a practice session ahead of the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez.
Photo: Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

That’s the message from the New Zealand Sail GP team has they try to continue their hot form on the foils in the French Riviera this weekend.

After a tough first foray into the league in season two, their frustrations continued in the opening rounds of this latest season.

But, having broken through for their first event win in Plymouth six weeks ago, the star-studded Kiwi crew cemented their spot as true contenders by powering to a dominant triumph in Denmark last month.

“It’s pretty nice heading into a race weekend off the back of two wins like we’ve had,” wing trimmer and co-chief executive Blair Tuke told RNZ from Saint Tropez.

“It’s really pleasing for the group. It’s been a long, slow and steady journey to get one of these [event] wins.

“So yeah, super proud of the group to see some reward for all that hard work but now pretty quickly the focus shifts to this weekend … it’s a long season so we’ve got to keep the hammer down.”

The New Zealand team headed into Saint Tropez just four points behind overall leaders and defending champions Australia.

A position they had only got to after persisting and continuing to push through those prolonged early struggles.

Sail GP competition in Italy

Sail GP competition in Italy
Photo: Sail GP

But Tuke said they always knew they were making ground on their rivals.

“We’d been saying it for a long time, and it probably sounded like we’d been on repeat for a while, that the gains had been incremental and across a lot of different areas of the boat and getting it around the race track.

“We’ve been knocking on the door of that podium race for a while, but especially this season, but we hadn’t managed to put a race weekend together.

“The change has been that we haven’t made those mistakes. We’ve stepped forward in a number of areas but just really [found] that consistency … that’s what’s enabled us to get those more consistent results.”

Results that the likes of Tuke, helm Peter Burling and many of their crew-mates had grown used to in several different competitions and classes over the years.

For Tuke and Burling, that included America’s Cup triumphs, Olympic success in the 49er and involvement in the brutal Volvo Ocean Race.

Tuke said their experience in Sail GP so far, with its fan-friendly format and venues, had been one they were equally relishing.

“When you put nine boats, all exactly the same, best sailors in the world, onto one of these small courses there’s plenty of action, and no real room for any mistakes.

“We’re absolutely loving the challenge. It’s a style of sailing we haven’t done before, so it’s great to be here representing Aotearoa.”

Racing in Saint Tropez was set to start at 12.30am (NZ time) on Sunday and Monday, and would be available to watch live and on-demand on YouTube.

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