SailGP: Stand-in skipper Nathan Outteridge ensures New Zealand in hunt for title in Sydney

  • 25/02/2024

New Zealand have ensured they remain in title contention at the Australian SailGP after a treacherous opening day on the waters in Sydney.

Winds hitting almost 30km made life difficult for all of the boats on Saturday, almost resulting in disaster for Germany, who narrowly avoided capsizing after a risky pass attempt of the French.

Filling in for regular skipper Peter Burling, who is absent on paternity leave, Australian Nathan Outteridge's local knowledge proved hugely valuable, guiding the NZ boat to victory in the final race of the day.

The NZ boat in action.
The NZ boat in action. Photo credit: Getty Images

That result lifted New Zealand to third in the event standings - two points behind joint leaders Denmark and Australia. The top three boats advance to the finale on Sunday.

"It's been a pleasure racing today on Sydney harbour," said Outteridge immediately after New Zealand's win.

"It's quite shifty. It took us a while to get fired up in those first couple [of races] but very happy to take the win there."

After thunderstorms had forced cancellation of Friday's official practice, there were fears that there may be a repeat of last year's event in Sydney, when day two of the regatta was abandoned. Fortunately, conditions tempered and racing was able to get underway.

Defending champions Australia made an early statement by bolting clear to win race one by a massive margin, followed by the Danish in second and New Zealand in third.

Race two saw Spain take the spoils and Australia trail in second, with the NZ boat coming in fifth.

New Zealand were the first to the line in race three, with Denmark second and France third.

A title win in Australia would make it three straight for New Zealand, who are coming off consecutive triumphs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and also reduce their deficit behind the competition-leading Aussies.

Winds are expected to be lighter for Sunday's racing, which begins at 6pm.

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