New Zealand SailGP Team Locks Another Win

The Kiwis emerge as winners from challenging light-air regatta in Abu Dhabi while the new US team scores a podium place in only its second event.
New Zealand SailGP Team
New Zealand SailGP Team’s Peter Burling helms his F50 to the team’s second consecutive win of SailGP’s Season 4, in Abu Dhabi. Simon Bruty for SailGP

New Zealand did the double in the United Arab Emirates to secure back-to-back victories after winning the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council. Mastering the light conditions and its nemesis—the 29-meter wing—New Zealand beat Spain and the United States in the three-boat finale. In a change of favor, overall leaders Australia missed out on its first event final of the season to finish seventh.

Burling said: “We have been the ones who have just missed the final by a few points at previous events. Finally winning the last two has been fun but it has been very stressful racing—just battling it out in the middle of the fleet all day in these light wind conditions, it’s not easy.”

The first race of the final day saw a chaotic start with all but three boats—Australia, Spain and France—over the line early and having to get to the back of the pack. The fleet found themselves in light winds and on a tight racecourse for the second day, meaning Australia’s strong start gave them a substantial lead on the rest of the fleet. Extending to nearly 200 meters, the rest of the fleet didn’t stand a chance to catch the three-time SailGP Champion and overall season leader, with Australia taking the win from Quentin Delapierre’s France and Erik Heil’s Germany. Overnight leader Spain—after such a promising start to the event—found themselves at the back of the fleet in tenth and with work to do to have a chance of making the event final.

However, Diego Botín’s Spanish team rallied in the second race of the day. Getting off the line quickly, the team led from start to finish, to win the race and book its place in the final. A remarkable feat considering they got there with three first places and two last places.

SailGP in Abu Dhabi
Even with the big wings, the light conditions of the Abu Dhabi stop of SailGP put a premium on starts. The new US team, with Taylor Canfield at the helm, started consistently well and earned its first podium finish after only two events. Felix Diemer for SailGP

After a promising start to the day, it was a disappointment for Slingsby who mistimed the start, and crossed the line early, getting a penalty and putting Australia at the back of the fleet and with a tall task to claw back and make the final.

Slingsby said: “In the fifth race of the day, something went wrong with our software and we paid the price for it. It does not change the strategy for us, our big goal is to win at the end of the season, so we just need to make that final.”

Germany’s new SailGP team continued its success in the second race to take an impressive second behind Spain – an equal best in SailGP – and while not enough to make the final, Germany finished fifth overall – its best result to date.

The new sailing squad with the United States SailGP team—Taylor Canfield helming—sailed well to secure a fourth and third, to advance into the first final under Canfield, with the final spot secured by the Burling’s Kiwi’s. 

In the three-boat event final, the Kiwis had the strongest start, crossing the line first and leading round the first mark from Spain and the United States. With New Zealand in the lead, Spain and the US battled it out but Canfield decided to split from the fleet at the second mark in search of more wind, which left the Kiwis and the Spanish team neck and neck.

New Zealand continued the lead around Gate 3, with Spain and US arriving at the same time – although with Spain the right of way boat, Canfield was forced to go around outside them. New Zealand managed to extend its lead to take the win and claim the title of champions of the UAE – followed by Spain and finally the US.

US SailGP Team
The US SailGP Team benefited from good starts, but also from smart fleet management in the light winds of Abu Dhabi. Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

Canfield said: “It’s a little disappointing, but we made it to third place—a great result. I think we are sailing the boat well and even if we are behind, we can come back in the races. It’s very new for a lot of us, some in new positions or new to the boat, so I think there is much more to come. We are looking forward to it.”

The results from this weekend closes the gap between the Aussies who still remain first overall on the leaderboard, ahead of New Zealand who have bumped their way up to second place with only a 6-point gap between first and second. The Kiwis now hold the record for the most event wins across Season 4. A podium result for the US, sees them move up the leaderboard from fifth to third.

SailGP’s fleet now heads to Sydney for the eighth event of Season 4, which takes place on February 24-25.


1New Zealand10 points
2Spain9 points
3United States8 points
4France7 points
5Germany6 points
6Canada5 points
7Australia4 points
8Emirates GBR3 points
9ROCKWOOL Denmark2 points
10Switzerland1 point


1Australia56 points
2New Zealand50 points**
3United States43 points
4ROCKWOOL Denmark43 points
5Spain42 points*
6Emirates GBR41 points
7France38 points
8Canada37 points***
9Germany16 points****
10Switzerland12 points*****

*Spain SailGP Team docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía-Cádiz

**New Zealand SailGP Team unable to compete in Taranto due to the structural failure of the  team’s wingsail at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez

***Canada SailGP Team Docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez

****Germany SailGP Team docked two points in Season Championship for four-point penalty at Oracle Los Angeles Sail Grand Prix

*****Switzerland SailGP Team docked four points in Season Championship for eight-point penalty at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council