The practice of teams lowering and raising their boards to accelerate in light airs is being investigated following Chicago and will most likely be banned.
The act was used prevalently on Chicago’s second day of racing, when winds dropped to as low as 2 km/h. As the F50s wallowed in the waters of Lake Michigan, teams were seen continually dropping and raising their boards, which results in a minor acceleration.
But now the umpires are preparing changes to Rule 42, which allows any act of acceleration as long as it doesn’t include an engine, to prohibit the action.
Chief umpire Craig Mitchell said this would also allay the fears of SailGP’s Tech Team, which is concerned the action could ‘cause damage to the boards and surrounding structure’.
“They’re sailing the boat in a manner that could cause equipment damage,” Mitchell said. The best solution, he added, was to take the option ‘off the table’ entirely. “If you don’t take the option away, then teams will be forced to do it, because everyone else is doing it.”
A rule change would mean teams that continue to lower and raise the boards would be handed an on-water penalty which, Mitchell said, would be ‘equivalent to one or two boundary penalties’, and could also risk a points penalty.
It comes after Emirates GBR driver Ben Ainslie called the practice ‘a joke’ after racing in Chicago, adding that he had previously raised it as ‘an issue’.
“I think it should be outlawed - it’s not sailing, it’s just paddling.”