Limitoo News

NZ Sail GP boat 'fried' and heading home

The race is on for the New Zealand SailGP team to get a boat full of "fried' electronics back on the startline for their first event on home waters.

The New Zealand SailGP team during a practice session ahead of the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez.
The New Zealand SailGP team during a practice session ahead of the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint Tropez. Photo: Ricardo Pinto for SailGP

Initial checks revealed a lightning strike in the wake of the team's win in Singapore earlier this month caused significant damage to their F50 catamaran Amokura.

The boat was being rushed back to Auckland for a full inspection and repairs that are expected to take some time, meaning the New Zealanders would be using a loan boat for next month's event in Sydney.

"Since [the strike] we've realised that the damage to Amokura is pretty significant," said New Zealand wing trimmer and co-CEO Blair Tuke.

"Quite quickly we discovered that all of the electronics on board were fried. On a lot of the hydraulic components - especially the titanium parts - you could see where the current had been, leaving scouring.

"Over the coming days in Singapore, more and more issues started to crop up and that's when the decision was made to bring Amokura back to Aotearoa. Very thankfully everyone on board the boat was okay, and that's absolutely the most important part."

The timeline to get Amokura back on the water for the league's New Zealand debut at Lytttleton was seven weeks.

SailGP tech team director Brad Marsh said it was the smart decision to bring the boat to Aotearoa.

"We have the facilities and resources here to do the investigation that we need to do.

"In the marine industry, boats do get struck by lightning regularly - but not often a boat as complex and advanced as the F50...

"It's going to be a relatively compressed schedule to do all this - a full electronic refit, hydraulic refit and all new components and parts - in order to get Amokura down to Lyttelton and ready for sailing."

In Sydney, the New Zealand team were set to race on the boat used by the no longer competing Japan team.

The boat had also been used by the Canadian team during season three.

Tuke said the one-design fleet made such a shuffle possible.

"One of the cool things about SailGP is that when you're lining up, you know you're racing against a boat that's exactly the same as yours.

"We have in the past sailed other teams' boats in training days - it's been awhile since we've done that, but you can hardly notice the difference other than some of the visual references."

The Australia Sail Grand Prix begins in three weeks on Sydney Harbour, with the New Zealand debut a month later.