VIDEO: Shocking SailGP wing collapse, and UK wins Saint Tropez

Shocking footage has emerged of the New Zealand SailGP team’s wing collapsing moments after Saturday’s final race (9 September 2023). No athletes sustained any injuries in the incident.

The incident took place on the first day of the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez.

“I’ve honestly got no idea [why it failed], on board we weren’t doing anything different, we were just gently touching the boat in and coming up on course and we were just cruising to say ‘hi’ to a few friends at the end of the day,” says Peter Burling.

According to Jimmy Spithill, driver for the US team, athletes get so comfortable at super high speeds but things can happen when they push them to the edge.

“It just happened so quickly I just saw the mast and the sail coming back at us and I mean there was nothing we could have done and we were just super lucky with where it landed,” says strategist Jo Aleh.

The damage wasn’t repaired in time to race on Sunday. An investigation is now underway as to why the wing came out of alignment (causing the structural failure to happen).

In the meantime, while the league determines the facts, it will not use the 29m wing configuration. A replacement wing is on its way from New Zealand for the next event in fourteen days’ time.

Emirates Great Britain, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, prevailed on Sunday, ending a two and half year event win drought.

“It’s been a long time coming but it was great to be in one of those all time classic finals with the Aussies, who are the great champion team, and look, a huge amount of respect to them,” says Ainslie.

“But for us to come out, get through them and overtake them – we’ll take that. The team did a brilliant job all through the weekend and I feel like we made some big gains after a frustrating period for us not quite getting the results. Now we’ve got some momentum behind us so it was a great team effort.”

British strategist Hannah Mills says: “It was full on for everyone, just sailing the boat incredibly hard, it was all over the place so I think everyone feels a bit fried. You want those tense, tight battles, obviously to come out on top was amazing. It feels good. It feels like we’ve been building for a long time, struggling with different things and it hasn’t been quite clicking and so to come good here has been so good for the team.”

The New Zealand team’s day one points were enough to post an eighth place finish.

The European leg of Season Four of SailGP continues in two weeks with the Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto on September 23 and 24.

Earlier this year, a SailGP boat was ripped apart as freak storm hit Sydney, resulting in significant damage to the wing sails, following the day’s racing at the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix (18 February 2023).

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