I spent a couple of exciting and enjoyable hours catching up with the SailGP event in Singapore on YouTube last Sunday, streaming both days’ action back-to-back without all the pre-race interviews and other guff that pads out the racing.

SailGP Singapore resulted in an emphatic win for the Peter Burlingled New Zealand SailGP Team, which overcame the odds to win overall after being penalised four event points and two championship points for a practice day mishap.

Burling, Blair Tuke and the rest of the team took the penalties in stride and produced their best event so far, showing winning ways both on the shortened first day of the event in light winds where foiling was impossible, and even more convincingly on the second day in better sailing conditions.

Aggressive racing of the type the Kiwi team is becoming known for pulled them clear in the hunt for a spot in the podium race final, which they won convincingly against Denmark and Australia.

With that result, New Zealand SailGP is lying second in the season’s standings behind Australia with three events to go. Only the top three teams on the leaderboard will qualify for the $1 million dollar Shootout in San Francisco in May, the season’s Grand Finale.


New Zealand’s first season with SailGP was disappointing – for a team with so much talent, results were lack-lustre with only three fleet race victories and not one podium race. But in this, the team’s second season without crew disruptions and the distractions of 2020-21’s America’s Cup campaign, Pete’s boys and girls (strategists Liv Mackay, Erica Dawson and Jo Aleh) seem to have really found their groove. This season, fleet race and podium wins have been coming regularly.

In March this year, SailGP is coming to New Zealand with Christchurch hosting this country’s inaugural event on Lyttelton Harbour (see story page 50). Depending on how the next event goes for them (Sydney in February), the Kiwis may be leading the pack by then. But even if they have a poor showing, with only two more SailGP events this season, New Zealand should still be in contention for a season’s top-three finish and a place in the San Francisco Shootout. Either way, SailGP Christchurch will be a pivotal event.

To be frank, I’m not a huge yacht racing fan – at least, not conventional around-the-cans racing. To me, yachting is about the joy of sailing – it’s fun for the participants, but it doesn’t have much appeal for spectators. But the sheer speed and excitement of SailGP (and modern America’s Cup racing) is hard to ignore, especially when there’s a New Zealand team to root for. I get caught up in the foiling spectacle as much as anyone.

One thing’s for sure, along with many of you, I’m sure, I’ll be taking time out to catch coverage of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix, Christchurch, March 18-19.

Safe boating,

John Eichelsheim