New Zealand has secured back-to back victories in the UAE after mastering light wind conditions to beat Spain and the United States in Abu Dhabi.
The Kiwis executed a perfect start to secure the all-important inside track to Mark 1, increasing their lead as Spain and the USA tussled in their wake.
Despite the Spanish making a comeback and challenging the Kiwis on the final leg, it was the Kiwis who crossed the finish line first – making it two wins from two in the Middle East.
Speaking after racing, New Zealand driver Peter Burling said the result was ‘an amazing way to kick off 2024’. “To put it together in the end in the last two races is awesome for us in the overalls,” he said.
New Zealand’s victory followed an uneven path to the Final. Despite drawing on points with France, the Kiwis pipped Quentin Delapierre’s crew to the finish line in Fleet Race 5 – scraping into the three-boat showdown by the thinnest of margins.
Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi marked the first Final appearance for Taylor Canfield’s new-look USA crew. The team finished third overall at their second event as a revamped outfit – an impressive performance for such a new team.
Speaking about the result, Canfield said: “To be in the Final after our second event as a new team under new ownership is incredible and we were ecstatic about that – but we’re competitors and we’re here to win, so we’re a bit disappointed as well.”
Spain meanwhile had an excellent event after finishing Dubai at the bottom of the leaderboard – winning three of the five fleet races and finishing second overall.
Speaking from the water, driver Diego Botin said: “The team has made a huge effort since Dubai and it’s paid off here – overall the weekend has been fantastic for us.”
Elsewhere, Germany picked up its best result so far – a second place finish in Fleet Race 5, while Abu Dhabi marked the first Final without Australia since the beginning of Season 4.
There was plenty of drama throughout fleet racing, with Switzerland picking up 4 penalty points for hitting ROCKWOOL DEN, and the Danish docked 2 points for not doing enough to avoid the collision. Elsewhere, Canada made contact with a race mark, which began remotely manoevureivng during racing.
The refreshed season standings see New Zealand close Australia’s lead at the top of the leaderboard, with the Aussies sitting 1st with 56 points and the Kiwis in 2nd with 48. Canfield’s USA meanwhile moves up to 3rd overall with 45 points.
The F50 fleet will next meet for battle at the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney on February 24-25.