The enforcement of harsher penalties in Season 3 means a ‘big rethink’ of the racing tactics employed by SailGP’s teams, Sir Ben Ainslie has said.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess, Ainslie said the doubling of penalties dished out in Season 3 is forcing the British team to ‘reevaluate our risk and reward approach to racing’.
The harsher penalty policy was introduced ahead of Season 3 to deter contact, collision and crashes between rival boats. Notable Season 2 examples saw the British team cause serious damage to one of Japan’s hulls and a collision between Japan and the US in which the two boats attached and broke apart.
With the introduction of the Switzerland and Canada teams, the racecourse is ‘only going to get tighter’, Ainslie said.
“From our perspective, we fell foul a couple of times last season for different reasons but we have taken the time between Sydney and this event to really reevaluate our risk and reward approach to racing and it’s going to be a factor for sure.”
USA Driver Jimmy Spithill agreed that greater caution is required by all teams and said incurring penalty points for collisions and contact could mean ‘season over’.
“With more boats and teams pushing harder and tighter racecourses, you’ve really got to think about that,” he said. “Our strategy is to try and stay away from it.”
Australian Driver Tom Slingsby echoed this, and also stressed the importance of ‘staying out of trouble’.
“You saw a few of teams [in Season 2] and their seasons were ruined getting penalty points from collisions.”
He added that his aim is to ‘get through the first half of the year without too many scratches on the boat and not too many penalty points'.
It comes after SailGP’s international broadcast commentators Stevie Morrison and David ‘Freddie’ Carr suggested the British team would be looking to tone down the racecourse drama and ‘set the record straight’ in the second episode of SailGP’s Deep Dive podcast.