New Zealand entered its own race to win the fourth race of the SailGP regatta in Taranto, Italy.
New Zealand had their best day in SailGP on Monday, but there was more heartache for American skipper Jimmy Spithill as he saw a regatta victory in Italy denied by mechanical failure.
New Zealand recorded their first victory of the season by winning the first of two fleet races on the second day of action in Taranto.
Their hopes of qualifying for the three-way final were dashed with a fifth place finish in the second race of the day, finishing two places behind Spain who slipped into the title race with the United States and Japan. .
The Kiwis improve in Italy as Japan wins the regatta at the expense of Jimmy Spithill.
New Zealand had to settle for a fourth place overall in Italy, an improvement from their Bermuda debut in April when they were fifth. This propelled them to fourth place on the season ladder.
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Japan, skippered by Nathan Outteridge, won the Italian final but was gifted with it after Spithill’s American boat collided with an unidentified submerged object on the penultimate stage, breaking a rudder as it was in the lead and forced to retire.
“An extremely difficult way to end it,” Spithill said. “We were really having a perfect race and all we had to do was pass the mark and head for the finish. Now I know what a Formula 1 driver feels when he has two corners left and his engine breaks down.
“Some things are beyond your control. You cannot control having a significant impact underwater. These things will happen.
Spain, helmed by Kiwi Phil Robertson, finished second to take the lead of the season standings in this fast-paced championship cruised on 50-foot foil catamarans.
It was another cruel blow to Spithill who had finished last in Bermuda when Japan crashed into his American boat which eventually capsized.
The conditions in Taranto on Monday were again trying with 8 to 15 km / h of wind. This allowed the teams to sail with a full crew of five, but the extra weight put pressure on the boats and foils.
New Zealand, led by interim Swiss rider Arnaud Psarofaghis, got off to a perfect start, blocking the French at the line. The Kiwis were the first F50s to fly on their foils, which gave them a significant lead early in the race that they never gave up.
The World Series now travels to England with a regatta in Portsmouth on July 17th and 18th.
Italy SailGP, Taranto:
1 Japan, 2 Spain, 3 United States, 4 New Zealand, 5 Denmark, 6 Great Britain, 7 France, 8 Australia.
Ranking of the SailGP season (after 2 events):
1 Spain 16 pts, 2 Great Britain 15, 3 Japan 14, 4 New Zealand 13, 5 France 12, 6 Australia 12, 7 United States 11, 8 Denmark 11.