New Zealand wins Dubai Sail Grand Prix

Published on December 10th, 2023

Peter Burling’s New Zealand SailGP Team clinched a stunning come-from-behind victory to win the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas in the most hotly contested final in SailGP history. Light winds prevailed for the SailGP’s sixth stop of Season 4 on December 9-10 in Dubai, UAE.

In a thrilling, winner-takes-all final race, the lead changed constantly and at the finish there was utter confusion as all three finalists – New Zealand, Canada, and Australia – were side by side, meters from both the shoreline and the finish line and no one was clear who had taken the win.

Phil Robertson’s Canada SailGP Team appeared to have the upper hand heading into the final mark as it surged ahead but Robertson was penalized for not providing Australia – driven by Jimmy Spithill who was standing in for regular driver Tom Slingsby – with enough space to get around the final mark, and despite crossing the line first, the victory went to the Kiwis who snuck in at the very last minute.

It was a fitting finish to a drama-filled last day on the waters as Ben Ainslie’s Emirates GBR won the opener, positioning the Brits for one of the three slots for the final. However, disaster struck at the beginning of race five and the Brits had to leave the race course early, ending any hope of victory in Dubai.

The Brits had fouled new USA SailGP Team driver Taylor Canfield at the start as the Brits barged in at the mark. Canfield closed the gap at the end of the startline on the Brits to shut them out and, while Ainslie made it through, he was quickly disqualified by the umpire for the maneuver, receiving a similar fate to the Germans the day before.

“It was a difficult way to end for us…we were in pole position and it was really 50-50 with the USA,” said Ainslie. “They were obviously gunning to try and shut us out and eventually the umpires decided that was the case.”

Due to light wind conditions yesterday, SailGP’s CEO Sir Russell Coutts offered teams the choice of the 24 or 29 meter wing for the final race day in Dubai, another first for the league. The 29 meter wing has been out of use across the entire fleet since the wing failure of the New Zealand SailGP Team in Saint-Tropez earlier this season. After an hour of deliberation, the ten national teams collectively decided to race with the larger wing to give the F50s extra power in the forecasted light winds.

New Zealand driver Peter Burling said: “With the collapse of our wing, we feel like we missed two events of the European leg so it’s really hard to get back into the league. I’m proud of the team for getting this wing back up, getting over the incident in Saint-Tropez and carrying on. We made a mistake at the start box and stayed at the back but we managed to get to the inside at the bottom and we’re stoked to walk away with a win.”

For Spithill – who had a turbulent run into the event, having left the United States team, announced his own Italian team and then reappeared as driver for the Aussies – it was a fitting end to his SailGP sailing career.

Spithill said: “Coming into this event, I didn’t want to make too many mistakes for the Aussies, I just wanted to get a solid result and I think that’s what we accomplished. For me, I’m finished now as a SailGP athlete, this being my final event. It’s come full circle because over 20 years ago now I started with Australia, that’s the last time I represented Australia, so to close it out with a team like this is a good feeling. I’ll be heavily involved in the Italy SailGP Team, but it’s time for a new generation and a new young gun to come through.”

The next stop is in a month’s time when the league remains in the UAE and goes to Abu Dhabi for the seventh event of Season 4 on January 13-14.

SailGP informationDubai detailsYouTubeHow to watch

Dubai Final Results
1. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 6-2-4-2-4-(1), 37 points
2. Australia (Jimmy Spithill), 3-1-3-4-8-(2), 36
3. Canada (Phil Robertson), 1-3-8-7-1-(3), 35
4. France (Quintin Delapierre), 2-4-7-5-2, 35
5. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 5-7-1-1-10, 30
6. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 4-5-10-3-5, 28
7. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 7-6-6-6-6, 24
8. United States (Taylor Canfield), 8-9-9-9-3, 17
9. Germany (Erik Heil), 9-10-5-8-7, 15
10. Spain (Diego Botin), 19-8-2-10-9, 15

Season Standings (after six of 13 events; results and total points)
1. Australia (Tom Slingsby/Jimmy Spithill), 2-3-2-2-3-2; 52 points
2. Denmark (Nicolai Sehested), 4-2-4-7-2-6; 41
3. New Zealand (Peter Burling), 1-7-8-DNC/6-4-1; 40
4. Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 7-6-1-1-8-5; 38
5. United States (Jimmy Spithill/Taylor Canfield), 9-5-5-3-1-8; 35
6. Spain (Diego Botin), 5-1-3-6-6-10; 33
7. Canada (Phil Robertson), 3-4-10-5-5-3; 32
8. France (Quintin Delapierre), 6-8-6-4-7-4; 31
9. Switzerland (Sebastien Schneiter), 8-9-9-9-7; 15
10. Germany (Erik Heil), 10-10-7-8-9-10-9; 10
• 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
• New Zealand SailGP Team: Granted six event points for Italy Sail Grand Prix as unable to compete due to wing damage suffered at France Sail Grand Prix.

Season 4 – 2023
June 16-17 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
July 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | Los Angeles
September 9-10 – France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
September 23-24 – Italy Sail Grand Prix | Taranto
October 14-15 – Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía- Cádiz
December 9-10 – Dubai Sail Grand Prix | Dubai*

Season 4 – 2024
January 13-14 – Abu Dhabi Sail Grand Prix | Abu Dhabi
February 24-25 – Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney
March 23-24 – New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Auckland
May 4-5 – Bermuda Sail Grand Prix
June 1-2 – Canada Sail Grand Prix | Halifax
June 22-23 – United States Sail Grand Prix | New York
July 13-14 – SailGP Season 4 Grand Final | San Francisco
* Added October 3, 2023

Format for Season 4:
• Teams compete in identical F50 catamarans.
• Each event runs across two days.
• Up to seven qualifying fleet races of approximately 15 minutes may be scheduled for each regatta.
• The top three teams from qualifying advance to a final race to be crowned event champion and earn the largest share of the $300,000.00 USD event prize money purse (increases to $400k after Abu Dhabi) that’s divided among the top three teams.
• The season ends with the Grand Final, which includes the Championship Final Race for the top three teams in the season standing with the winner claiming the $2 million USD prize.
• The top team on points ahead of the three-boat Championship Final will be awarded $350,000.00.

For competition documents, click here.

Established in 2018, SailGP seeks to be an annual, global sports league featuring fan-centric inshore racing among national teams in some of the iconic harbors around the globe.

Source: SailGP

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