Watch live: SailGP San Francisco with nzherald.co.nz and Sky TV

It’s full speed ahead for SailGP’s eight-nation fleet as they head into season two’s final event.

Featuring the world’s best sailors, including Peter Burling and Blair Tuke’s New Zealand SailGP Team, the teams are vying for the highly coveted $1 million top prize.

Coverage begins from 10am.

Watch live on Sky TV and free-to-air on nzherald.co.nz/sailgp

Day 1 – Sunday 10am
Day 2 – Monday 10am

The ultimate equaliser: Why NZ remain a faint chance for SailGP title

When asked who he thought would leave San Francisco this weekend as SailGP season two winners, Danish driver Nicolai Sehested made a surprising prediction.

“I’m going to go with a wildcard; I’m going to say one of these two guys next to me,” referring to New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Great Britain’s Sir Ben Ainslie.

Neither New Zealand nor Great Britain go into the weekend in a position to contest the US$1 million ($1.435m) shootout race on Monday, but that isn’t to say they won’t end up there.

“I think that’s why it’s sport, isn’t it,” a bemused Burling responded. “I think we’re all looking forward to seeing how the weekend plays out.”

As it stands, the teams from the United States and Australia will compete in Monday’s finale, with Japan (51 points) the likely third finalist ahead of Spain (43), New Zealand (42) and Great Britain (41). However, if a team is unable to take their place in the final, the next best team will take their place.

Around the team bases and event sites, there has been a clear sense of intrigue, with the phrase “it’s San Francisco, anything can happen” a familiar sound, becoming something of an unofficial event catchphrase.

It has held true through practice sessions during the week, too. There have already been teams capsizing and narrowly avoiding collisions. On Friday, Tom Slingsby’s Australian team keeled over and damaged the wing of their F50 catamaran. They weren’t the only team to sustain damage during practice, but suffered the worst of it and were forced to miss the final practice day on Saturday. They are expected to be on the water when the races that count begin.

With similar conditions expected for the weekend’s racing, the winds of San Francisco could be the ultimate equaliser.

“Between Ben, ourselves and Spain, it’s really tight for the fourth position overall, and I think that fourth position overall probably gives you a small outside chance of being in the final looking at what’s happened over the last couple of days,” Burling said.

“For us as a group, we’re just going out there to give it our all and try to make sure we have a good event to close out this season, but also looking at that fourth position as a pretty critical one.”

As usual, the crews will race in three fleet races on Sunday, with two more on Monday. However, being the final event of the season, the regatta in San Francisco will run slightly differently. Rather than the Grand Prix winner being found after the sixth race – usually the podium race between the event’s top three teams – the five fleet races will decide the individual event. The sixth race of the event will be the grand final, with the winner claiming the title of season two champion.

Sehested expects there will be plenty of twists and turns over the coming days.

“Watching the training the last few days, it’s pretty clear there’s going to be a lot of action out there; I’m pretty sure you haven’t seen the last capsize this weekend. It’s going to be fantastic racing and really interesting to watch.

“I would be surprised if the race result on Sunday is given as it stands right now. There’s a lot still to happen and I think these guys to the left of me [Burling and Ainslie] have a pretty good shot of racing three races on Sunday instead of two.”

Watch the SailGP grand final live this Sunday and Monday, March 27 and 28. Coverage from 10am on Sky Sport and free-to-air on nzherald.co.nz/sailgp

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