Rotorua Daily Post

Sail GP round risks becoming Covid casualty


With all these delays

it’s a scramble.

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s Sail GP debut could be scuttled because the Covid19 pandemic will leave them without a boat. Their new F50 catamaran was sent to Bermuda incomplete but a fresh lockdown on the island means technician­s won’t have time to get it ready for racing on April 24 and 25.

Sail GP boss Sir Russell Coutts is franticall­y trying to get a dispensati­on, supplying informatio­n about who does what on the New Zealand team to authoritie­s.

A week-long Bermuda lockdown because of a new Covid outbreak has put a cloud of confusion over the season opener in the eight-race global series.

“The New Zealand boat arrived in Bermuda unfinished because it takes considerab­le time to build these boats,” Coutts told Bermuda’s Royal Gazette.

“With the current disruption with the shipping schedule, we thought it was safer to get the boat to Bermuda and finish it here, rather than risk finishing it in New Zealand and having late shipping delayed by Covid and the boat won’t arrive on time.

“The problem is if we lock our staff down for a week or even a few days, we’re almost certainly not going to get that boat finished in time for racing in the event, which would be obviously not the desirable position.”

Coutts said all the crews needed decent training time so they could race the high speed, heavily modified boats safely, and blend in their two new women crew members. The dangers were magnified by fleet racing on a tight course.

And the weather was also proving

Sir Russell Coutts

to be a problem.

“If we get more strong winds and so forth, and we’re unable to sail, and we lose (more) days now then it could really be problemati­c,” Coutts said.

“With all these delays it’s a scramble. We can still do it … but we wouldn’t be able to hold the event if we can’t get enough time on the water.

“Worst case scenario, if we lost too many days we would not be able to safely hold the event, and we’d have to cancel, which none of us want. We all want to turn this into a success. I’m optimistic that we will find a way.”

The second season of Sail GP was abandoned last year because of the pandemic. — NZ Herald

 ?? Photo / Nick Reed ?? Peter Burling (left) and Blair Tuke could be left boatless in Bermuda.
Photo / Nick Reed Peter Burling (left) and Blair Tuke could be left boatless in Bermuda.

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