New Zealand have bounced back to claim a dramatic - and somewhat confusing - last-ditch victory in the final of SailGP Dubai.

The team chose to split the course at gate two during the podium race against Australia and Canada, leaving all three boats together at the final marker.

Despite crossing the finish-line in first place, a last-minute penalty for failing to give way to the other two boats - who had the inside lane - denied Canada victory.  

New Zealand and Australia reached the finish almost side by side, and after a wait for umpires to adjudicate, the Kiwis were deemed to have crossed just a couple of metres ahead.

The New Zealanders were heartened by the result, after their struggles in Europe, where their 29m wingsail collapsed to spoil their bid in France, before boat damage ended their chances in Italy.

The podium finish is New Zealand's second of the season, after their opening win at Chicago.

"It was a bit of a nailbiter, wasn't it?" said NZ helmsman Peter Burling. "I think today we’ve really showed what we’ve got as a team, and to get this wing back up and get over everything in Saint-Tropez means we're looking forward for things to come."

Qualifying first for the finale after the five fleet races, New Zealand made a lacklustre start and were quickly chasing the contest, with Canada and Australia - skippered by Jimmy Spithill in Tom Slingsby's absence - ahead.

The decision to race the other side of the course ultimately proved a masterstroke, as New Zealand stormed back in the mix to, eventually claim victory.

Spithill has confirmed Dubai will be his final time at the helm, announcing his retirement from SailGP. He had previously helmed the American team, but was ousted by new ownership.

He'll remain involved with the competition to launch an Italian team next year, but insists it will be strictly in his capacity as chief executive.

"I'm basically retiring after this event," said Spithill. "Clearly, I'm going to be heavily involved with the Italian team, running it, but I'm at the stage now where I need to let some new talent come through.

"The last time I represented Australia was 23 years ago, to complete the circle and finish this last event, that's it from me."

New Zealand now sit third in the overall standings with 40 points, just a single point shy of Denmark in second and 12 behind leaders Australia. 

The F50 fleet will next meet when SailGP visits Abu Dhabi for the first time on January 13-14.

Tune into Three or ThreeNow for live, free-to-air coverage of all 12 SailGP events this season.

2023-12-10T17:46:33Z dg43tfdfdgfd