Ben Ainslie has dismissed the last minute dramatic penalty handed to Great Britain, which cut the home team out of the Final, as ‘a bad call’.
The Brits were just 200m from the finish line and ahead of Tom Slingsby’s Australia when they were handed the devastating penalty, which forced them to cross the line behind the Aussies.
The decision, administered by chief umpire Craig Mitchell, meant Great Britain missed out on a place in the Final, which was handed to Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark instead.
New Zealand, Denmark and Australia went head to head in the three boat winner-takes-all final and Peter Burling’s Kiwi team triumphed overall, with Australia in second and Denmark in third.
Speaking about the race, Ainslie said he had watched the replay of the incident and still disagreed with the decision.
“We were still accelerating out of our gybe so from a long way out it probably didn’t look that good, but you can when see the boats come together that we’re a long way apart,” he said.
The British team were plagued by ‘three terrible starts’ in the first day of racing, which left them with work to do coming into the second day of racing.
“Ultimately, we could say that we should have done a better job by getting more points and getting into that final race but it’s tight in SailGP and it comes down to those final margins,” Ainslie said.
He acquiesced that refereeing the match is a ‘tough job’ but was adamant that his team has been on the receiving end of ‘some pretty bad calls’.
“But that’s sport, you’ve got to take it on the chin and come back and fight another day,” he added.
Australia driver Tom Slingsby said he was ‘ecstatic’ about his team’s second place finish but was unsure if the crucial penalty handed to Great Britain was deserved.
“I don’t know if it should have been a penalty,” he said. “It was touch and go, but luck went our way.”
He defended his decision to protest Great Britain’s action, adding, ‘if the roles were reversed, he would have gone for us to get a penalty and we had to do the same with him’.
The next event in SailGP’s 11-strong event calendar is the Rockwool Denmark Sail Grand Prix | Copenhagen, which takes place on August 19-20.