Canada claims maiden SailGP event win in classic final battle with home team in Christchurch
New Zealander Phil Robertson leads Canadians to victory over Peter Burling’s New Zealand and Tom Slingsby’s Australia
Canada became the fifth different team to win a SailGP Season 3 event with a thrilling victory over New Zealand and Australia in the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch event final. In front of SailGP’s biggest sell-out crowd to date, New Zealand born driver of the Canada team, Phil Robertson, produced a masterful display to lead the final almost from start to finish in a desperate battle with Peter Burling’s home team.
Tom Slingsby and the Australia team had earlier dominated the day’s proceedings to win both fleet races, but couldn’t maintain the momentum in the final to finish a distant third.
With New Zealand all but assured of second place overall, Quentin Delapierre’s France and Sir Ben Ainslie’s Emirates Great Britain are now in a neck and neck battle for the last Grand Final spot in San Francisco after finishing fourth and fifth in the event, now sitting third and fourth in the overall season standings.
Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark SailGP Team presented by ROCKWOOL and United States team driven by Jimmy Spithill saw their chances of a place in the weekend all but evaporate with a pair of disappointing weekend performances.
For Robertson it was a first ever SailGP event win, coming in his third season of competition, and the first for the Canada SailGP Team in its debut season.
Robertson said: “It’s huge for the team and it will give us a big morale boost. We actually had a bit of a tough time these last few weeks after the Sydney event and I think the good thing that it’s done is it’s brought the team together and that’s massive for any team in sport. We’re a tight group now and to get a win like that is pretty special. I’m stoked to get the win in New Zealand, that’s awesome and as a good Canadian would say, sorry, New Zealand.”
With 15,000 fans packing into the sold out race village across the weekend it was nearly a dream result for Burling at his home event, as he had led the standings heading into the second day.
Burling said: “The support this weekend has been just amazing. Seeing so many people in the grandstand and throughout the corporate hospitality, but not only that – out on the water and across every vantage point around, it seems like Christchurch got behind this event like we never thought possible. I think 90 per cent of people I’ve talked to have said ‘at least you beat the Aussies’ and for us it’s great for the overall season leaderboard as well by getting a few more on France and Great Britain.”
Slingsby said despite his rivalry with Burling that has lasted much of the season, he exacted no satisfaction from seeing New Zealand lose the final.
Slingsby said: “Honestly it doesn’t bother me in any way, I almost wish they did win so all the spectators would be jumping around and cheering but really we don’t care what the positions are we only look at ourselves. We’re now heading into San Francisco with an 11 point lead. We’ve just got to focus on the final now.”
Sebastien Schneiter’s Switzerland pulled itself off the bottom of the season standings with a seventh place finish, while Diego Botin’s Spain had a tough event to finish in ninth.
Alison Adams, Chief Executive, ChristchurchNZ said: “We work on bringing a lot of major events to Otautahi Christchurch, but I can’t think of one where the authentic commitment to environmental and social good runs deeper than SailGP. It’s a fabulous match for what we’re trying to do as a city.”
Season 3 of SailGP’s global championship concludes on the iconic waters of San Francisco Bay at the next event, the Mubadala SailGP Season 3 Grand Final on May 6-7, 2023. For tickets, head to SailGP.com/SanFrancisco and to rewatch the action from Christchurch visit SailGP.com/Watch.
ITM NEW ZEALAND SAIL GRAND PRIX | CHRISTCHURCH FINAL STANDINGS //
1 // Canada // 10 points
2 // New Zealand // 9 points
3 // Australia // 8 points
4 // Great Britain // 7 points
5 // France // 6 points
6 // United States // 5 points
7 // Switzerland // 4 points
8 // Denmark // 3 points
9 // Spain // 2 points
SAILGP SEASON 3 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after ten events) //
1 // Australia // 84 points
2 // New Zealand // 73 points
3 // France // 69 points
4 // Great Britain // 68 points
5 // Denmark // 60 points
6 // Canada // 59 points
7 // United States // 57 points
8 // Switzerland // 29 points
9 // Spain // 29 points
*United States penalized 4 season points
*New Zealand penalized 4 season points
*Switzerland penalized 2 season points
*Spain penalized 2 season points