New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling admits his team were just as confused as spectators at the finish-line of their podium race at SailGP Dubai.

A tight and tense contest came to an intriguing head at the final marker, when New Zealand's bold move to split the course gave them the all-important inside running to the final marker, ahead of rivals Australia and Canada, helping them recover from a slow start that saw them chasing the pack throughout.

All three boats crossed the finish-line neck and neck, but - unknown to Burling at the time - Canada had been stung with a penalty for not providing enough space for New Zealand to pass inside, removing them from contention.

Although he was confident they had the edge on Australia, Burling confesses he still thought Canada had taken gold, until the umpires official ruled his team had taken the spoils.

"It was definitely a little stressful at the finish there," Burling told Newshub. "It was a bit of a shame for us to end up off the back of the other two boats early on.

"We fought super hard to stay in it and then had that opportunity at the end. We obviously had the inside running on that last mark, which is where you have all of the rights.  

"The umpires very quickly gave Canada a penalty, which we didn't actually know on the boat, so we were just doing everything we could to cross the line.

"For us, our little battle was with Australia - they were the ones who were holding us up.

"At that stage, we didn't actually know Canada had got a penalty. When they first crossed, I thought we'd lost it to them.

"They still didn’t confirm it for a little while afterwards, but as soon as they did, we were just thrilled."

The course configuration in Dubai means very little room around the final marker before the finish-line, with only 50 metres separating it from the wall of the pier, which made for some nailbiting moments, as the race reached its crescendo.

Burling is confident the judges got their ultimate ruling right.

"I definitely think [Australia and Canada] both fouled us with how little space they gave us on the inside," he said. "When you've got to fit three boats, and you’ve got 50m between the wall and the mark, it's pretty tight, but it was amazing."

After New Zealand's recent struggles, the victory tastes that much sweeter for Burling and his crew.

The St Tropez event finished before it even got started, due to a broken wingsail. Damage to the boat then hampered their efforts in Italy, leaving them limping into the Dubai leg, desperately needing a result.

Victory lifts New Zealand to third on overall standings, just a point shy of second-placed Denmark and 12 behind leaders Australia.

"It's been an awesome week for us here," said Burling. "We feel like we've had a fair few things not quite go our way, but we've been sailing the boat really well, pushing the boundaries.

"Everyone's done an incredible job getting us back into it... to wrap that up with a win this weekend puts us right back into contention on the leaderboard.

"It's really exciting to go through so much adversity and come out of side of it to put a win on the board, heading into Christmas. It's something we're really proud of."

The competition resumes with a maiden visit to Abu Dhabi on January 13.

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

2023-12-10T20:46:44Z dg43tfdfdgfd