New Zealand were in second place, one point behind leaders Spain after negotiating light winds on the opening day of the SailGP regatta in Abu Dhabi.

Skipper Peter Burling steered his boat to victory in the first of three fleet races and they looked headed for victory in the third before being passed by Spain, who held a narrow lead heading into the second and final day.

The New Zealanders picked up 20 points, just one point shy of Spain while USA and Canada are tied for third with 19 points each.

In race one, New Zealand picked up where they left off from their round win in Dubai, executing a clean start to head the fleet to mark one, widening their lead to finish ahead of Australia in second and Canada in third.

In race two fortunes reversed, with the same top teams found themselves fighting in the back of the pack.

Australia and New Zealand finished ninth and 10th, respectively while Spain bounced back from their own 10th-place finish to pick up their first of back-to-back race wins.

Burling said the conditions made for fickle racing.

“It was really a day where if you’re not first, you’re last. Looking at the leaderboard, the first two boats overall each had a first and a tenth. It shows just how tricky it is out here,” he said.

rnz.co.nz

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