Lessons learnt for Peter Burling and his New Zealand team-mates
Peter Burling conceded New Zealand leave Bermuda with plenty of work to do ahead of the next round of SailGP Season 2, the Italy Grand Prix in Taranto on June 5 and 6.
Fresh from defending their America’s Cup title, which they first won on island in 2017 — before the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess — expectations were high that Olympic gold medal-winners Burling and Blair Tuke might dominate in the Great Sound once again.
However, a lack of preparation in the build-up to the event, having been the last of the eight national teams to arrive, proved pivotal. New Zealand endured mixed fortunes, failing to qualify for the winners-take-all final race on their way to fifth-place finish overall.
For a pair so accustomed to winning, Burling was left to admit the first event of the new season proved a steep learning curve for his crew.
"There are so many areas that we really need to improve on, so it's just about tidying up every little thing,“ Burling said. ”We came into this event pretty late with a small group and it’s been something that’s been a massive learning opportunity for us.
“We’re just figuring out where to put the effort between these events now, what the differences are going to be and where we need to improve. We're looking forward to more racing to come."
Despite missing out on challenging for a place on the podium, Tuke opted to focus on the positives of his side’s much improved performance on the second day amid challenging conditions an dramatic racing, which saw the United States capsize.
Having placed no higher than sixth, including back-to-back eighth-place finishes to end the first day at th bottom of the standings, New Zealand responded well to finish fourth and fifth in races four and five to move up three places in the overall table.
"I'm really proud of the way we kept chipping away as a group this week,“ Tuke said. ”It's been a big learning curve for all of the sailors and the shore crew to come into this league pretty fresh, and to put a new boat together and then get sailing it.
“It's been a huge effort from the whole group so to come away with fifth here and with the remainder of the season ahead of us we're happy with that, especially with all the improvements left on the table."
It was a point reinforced by chief executive Burling, who also hailed the collective effort of the New Zealand shore crew to get the boat ready for the second day of racing after the real threat of not making the start line at all.
"It was great to actually make the races [day two],“ added Burling. ”We had an issue when we were first sailing out so that meant we did not get any build-up and we had the boat builders in the pod grinding away trying to reinstate something as well as the hydro guys in there fixing a couple of things.
"It was a massive effort by the tech team and our shore group to get us to that first race and then obviously it was really enjoyable to actually get the boat around the track in pretty good shape. We're happy with how the day unfolded from there.
“We felt we were sailing the boat a whole heap better than the first day, so that's all we can ask for."