Peter Burling determined to learn from last season’s setbacks
Peter Burling hopes to rekindle the magic when he and his fellow New Zealand SailGP team-mates put their skills to the test during the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess in the Great Sound at the weekend.
The Kiwis failed to live up to their lofty expectations at last year’s regatta, having arrived fresh off a successful defence of the America’s Cup title they won here in 2017.
Burling and crew were eliminated in the qualifying fleet races and ultimately had to settle for fifth, as a lack of preparation and setbacks with their new boat took their toll.
“We had obviously just finished the America’s Cup back in Auckland and had a new boat that was getting commissioned,” Burling told The Royal Gazette. “We were really struggling to get everything working and had quite a few issues.
“It’s quite a unique event where the training time is quite limited, and we missed a bit of the training time here in Bermuda.”
New Zealand finished fifth overall out of eight in the season championship.
“It really felt like we were playing the whole season on the back foot,” Burling added.
“Just about cracking through a lot of stages, but never really quite managing to get it done.
“It was definitely a whole lot to learn throughout the season and not quite the results we were hoping to get.”
Burling believes he and his team have gained a lot of experience from the previous campaign heading into this season.
“We are really looking forward to Season 3 to try and put our hearts in the things we learnt and practised,” he said.
“We are definitely here to try and win it.
“We are kind of under no illusions, it’s going to be very hard, but it’s obviously what our goal is.”
The Kiwis have spent the past few days fine-tuning their preparations in the wing-sailed foiling F50 catamaran, which Burling has been encouraged by.
“The training has been going pretty well and we feel like we are improving all the time as a group,” he added.
They have made one change to their roster for this event as James Wierzbowski has taken over flight-control duties from Andy Maloney, who has remained in New Zealand as he and his wife are expecting the birth of their first child.
Burling certainly knows a thing or two about the conditions in the Great Sound, which he hopes works in his team’s favour.
“Hopefully it’s an advantage,” he said. “But in saying that, a lot of the other teams had a lot of people here during that America’s Cup campaign as well.
“There’s only probably a couple of teams that didn’t have a presence in that campaign with someone on board.
“It’s so cool having spent a lot of time sailing here and brings back pretty fond memories, but we are not the only ones.
“We as a league love sailing here; it definitely brings a high standard out of everyone.”
Asked about his thoughts on the forecast of a light-to-moderate breeze over the weekend, Burling added: “You can’t pick the wind, so you just got to be ready for whatever is thrown at you.
“This week we have pretty much done exactly that. We have tried to make some really good notes as to what all our tactical plays are in the light air, and we’re just looking forward to trying to execute everything that we have learnt.
“We are really hoping there’s enough wind that we can be on the foils most of the time and be going fast.
“But saying that some of the light-air races are entertaining to watch as well.”
Regardless of the conditions, the Olympic medal-winner and former world is looking forward to some exciting racing.
“It’s going to be cool and hopefully the Bermuda locals and people in town for the weekend get out there and cheer us on,” he said.
“We appreciate the support and it’s going to be a pretty amazing weekend.”
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