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NZSailGP team leads Impact League; Big plans ahead of Spanish Grand Prix

by James Rigby/NZSailGP 6 Oct 23:59 BST 7 October 2021
New Zealand SailGP Team co-helmed by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in action during a practice session ahead of Spain SailGP, Event 6, Season 2 in Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain. © Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

The New Zealand SailGP Team has strengthened its position at the top of the Impact League with three events remaining in SailGP Season 2.

A second leaderboard which runs alongside the Season Championship, the Impact League tracks the positive actions teams take to reduce their overall carbon footprint and help accelerate inclusivity in sailing.

SailGP’s Impact League has a set of sustainability criteria to operate against with each team awarded points based on its fulfilment of these criteria.

The criteria range from driving sustainable solutions using technology and innovation to removing single-use plastics, to diversity and inclusion and using the team’s voice for good.

The New Zealand SailGP Team has led the Impact League since its inception in Season 2 and further cemented its position at the top of the leaderboard following a strong performance at the France Sail Grand Prix in Saint-Tropez which saw the team lead in six of the 10 criteria.

Co-CEO and wing trimmer Blair Tuke said: “We’re stoked to be leading the Impact League at this point in the season. Like racing, it’s a huge team effort so it’s really pleasing to see how everyone has come together to take on this challenge.

“We’re really trying to be the best we can in every way we operate, pushing ourselves to come up with innovative ways to set up the boat in the most sustainable way, introducing new technologies and using our voice for good to share the message of ocean restoration and protection with our #RaceForTheFuture charity partner Live Ocean.”

At the end of the season there will be two podiums, with the winner of the Impact League crowned alongside the Season Champion and earning funding for its purpose partner.

Co-CEO and driver Peter Burling said: “Live Ocean has been a part of our DNA since the very start so bringing awareness to the critical role the ocean plays in a healthy future is incredibly important to us, and it’s fantastic the entire team is really embracing this.

“It’s also great to see the other teams pushing and coming up with new ways of innovating and learning from one another. The overall bar for the league is rising and that can only be a good thing for the environment.”

SailGP director of purpose and impact Fiona Morgan said: “Sustainability has been embedded in the New Zealand SailGP Team since day one and the Impact League has really allowed them to accelerate action even quicker with everyone in the team getting involved. It’s amazing to see our athletes using their platform for good, and inspiring their fans.”

Live Ocean chief executive Sally Paterson said: “The team has jumped in and made Live Ocean part of who they are and how they operate and it’s great to see that reflected in the Impact League leaderboard. Being able to use their voices and platform of their sport for the issues facing the ocean is really powerful.”

The New Zealand SailGP Team is continuing to use its voice for good ahead of the Spain Sail Grand Prix in Andalusia-Cádiz this weekend (9-10 October live and on replay on Sky Sport NZ).

Before arriving in Cádiz, Burling and Tuke joined New Zealand Ambassador to Spain Nigel Fyfe in Madrid to visit the Secretary of State for Sport José Manuel Franco.

They discussed the importance to New Zealand and Spain of ‘sport with purpose’ and the role it plays in supporting core values, as well as the transformational role sport can play in supporting environmental action.

Burling and Tuke also gave their strong support for planned cooperation between New Zealand and Spain for the protection of seabirds in the Southern Ocean.

This week the team is displaying a graphic of the Antipodean albatross on its boat as a symbol of the team’s commitment to shining a spotlight on the plight of the Antipodean albatross and working to stop their freefall to extinction.

The Antipodean albatross is New Zealand’s most threatened albatross with estimates of 2,300 lost each year. The number one threat to them is being accidentally caught on fishing gear, especially in long line fisheries.

Burling and Tuke will also share their story of founding Live Ocean and their first project on racing to save the Antipodean albatross at SailGP’s Champions for Change forum on Friday.

Champions for Change is SailGP’s new thought leadership programme where leaders and sustainability champions talk about their approach to tackling the climate crisis and share valuable insights and learnings.

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