Sailing: NZ skippers Peter Burling, Blair Tuke off to nightmare start at Sail GP

  • 24/04/2021

New Zealand's inaugural Sail GP campaign is off to a nightmare start, after finishing at the back of the fleet on the first day of competition in Bermuda on Saturday (NZ time).

In the opening round of the sailing league, the NZ boat - skippered by America's Cup winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke - finished sixth, eighth and eighth through the first three races of the eight-boat regatta.

The Australia boat - skippered by Team New Zealand's Tom Slingsby - won all three of the races, going head-to-head with INEOS Team UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie.

Saturday was initially intended as a practise day, until organisers decided to make a late call to bring the racing forward to make use of more favourable weather conditions.

Already behind in their preparations after their late arrival in Bermuda, that decision only added to the NZ contingent's issues, and it ultimately showed on the water.

Burling and Tuke now face a tall order to qualify for Monday's final. Two more round robin races will take place on Sunday, after which the top two teams race in a bid to claim overall event honours.

Entering its sophomore season, Sail GP has been billed as sailing's equivalent of Formula One and uses the lightning-quick F50 catamarans.

It was set up in 2018 by Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Kiwi America's Cup veteran Russell Coutts and culminates in a winner-takes-all $US1 million ($NZ1.39m) prize.