Sailing: Penalty points cripple New Zealand's Sail GP hopes despite opening race victory at Singapore

New Zealand were left ruing their training-track blunder, which had them languishing off the pace at Sail GP Singapore, despite an opening race win.

Skipper Peter Burling guided his boat to a dominant first-up victory, after finding the best of light airs in the middle of the startline and reaching the first mark with right-of-way, then followed that up with a solid fifth in the second race.

"Obviously, the favoured point in the line was in the middle," he said. "The guys did a great job of getting a gauge off the Swiss to leeward of us and that was the difference to getting to mark one."

New Zealand in Sail GP action off Singapore
New Zealand in Sail GP action off Singapore. Photo credit: Getty Images

Those results should have been good enough to sit second behind Australia halfway through the Singapore regatta, but four penalty points imposed for colliding with USA during practice have them back in sixth.

Burling put on a brave face in the build-up to the event.

"It was a little frustrating yesterday to have a tap with the USA during training, but the rules are the rules and you have to play to them," he said. "It’s a challenging one, but it's going to be a long weekend ahead, and we're looking forward to putting our best foot forward and making the most of it."

The light winds meant the boats rarely gained enough momentum to climb onto their foils.

After taking the first start, Burling was penalised at the second and trailed the fleet through the first gate, but made up valuable ground, when he did manage to find his foils momentarily.

New Zealand climbed as high as third, but were trapped on the byline by Great Britain and slipped a couple of spots on the run home.

The Kiwis currently sit second behind defending champions Australia and one point ahead of France in overall standings for the series, after consecutive victories at Plymouth and Copenhagen last August.

They need to return to the major placings, after missing the last two finals at Andalucia-Cadiz and Dubai.

With two more races scheduled overnight (NZ time), Burling can still achieve that at Singapore, but must stay clear of any more penalties.

Sail GP Singapore standings: 1 Australia 18pts (2/2), 2 Great Britain 14pts (5/3), 3 Canada 14pts (4/4), 4 USA 13pts (8/1), 5 Denmark 13pts (3/6), 6 NZ 12pts (1/5), 7 Switzerland 8pts (6/8), 8 Spain 6pts (9/7), 9 France 6pts (7/9)