New Zealand driver Peter Burling has said ‘coarse language’ has ‘no place’ in the sport after teams picked up penalities for pushing back against umpires on the first day of the Dubai Sail Grand Prix.
One incident occurred in the pre-start of the third fleet race of the day, which initially saw Canada pick up a penalty relative to Great Britain. However later in the pre-start, Canada was penalized for failing to keep clear of New Zealand.
Speaking about the penalty, Robertson said the Kiwis ‘put their boat in a very strange position’ and failed to keep clear despite being the windward boat.
“We were within half of meter of them and doing 10 km/h (…), we kept clear and (...) we got a penalty for it,” he said, adding that he was ‘surprised’ by the decision. “We’re still wondering why we got that - we will review it and see what [the umpires] have to say.”
However, Canada picked up an additional penalty for Robertson’s response to the umpire’s call. Speaking about his reaction, Robertson said: “Calls go against you at times and you want to bite your tongue but sometimes in the heat of the moment you let it slip.”
Speaking about the pre-start incident, Burling admitted to ‘putting on the anchors not to run into the back of people’, and defended the umpires.
“There was definitely a fair bit of coarse language over the comms and it will be interesting to see if they actually take that kind of thing further,” he said. “The umpires are trying to do their best and they’ve got to blow their whistle.”
Robertson’s reaction was not the only heated response to umpire decisions throughout the day. Ben Ainslie swore on the finish line of the first race after the British picked up a penalty relative to Switzerland, which forced them to drop behind the Swiss.
Ainslie defended the umpires, admitting that ‘sailors always think we’re right and the umpires are wrong when the decision goes against us.’
“The umpires are under a lot of pressure,” he added. “It’s tight racing with nine boats on a very tight course, so inevitably you’re going to end up in these situations.”
Great Britain currently sits top of the leaderboard heading into the second day of racing with 25 points, while the United States and New Zealand are tied on 20 apiece.
Racing resumes on November 13 between 15:00 - 16:30. Full broadcast information and How to Watch details HERE.