SailGP’s chief umpire Craig Mitchell has given his penalty rundown of the KPMG Australia Sail Grand Prix, which saw plenty of close crosses and tense boat on boat situations as crews battled against gusty conditions of up to 50 km/h.

A total of 15 penalties were dished out across the three fleet races from 30 protests, including three Part 2 (boat on boat) penalties, two early start penalties and 10 boundary penalties, which punish teams for straying outside course limits.

The number of boundary penalties was, Mitchell said, ‘a few more than what we’re used to’, but he attributed this to the ‘tricky conditions’ and ‘technical problems’ that challenged teams such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The first of the two early start penalties was dished out to New Zealand in the first race of the day, which saw the team cross the line with ‘a second to go’. The Kiwis suffered technical problems throughout the first race and, although stopping during the race, pressed on to finish ninth, almost catching Spain on the sprint to the line.

Home favorites Australia meanwhile picked up an OCS penalty in the second fleet race and were early by just 0.04 seconds - a margin Mitchell described as ‘painfully close’. “They were right at the top of the line so left themselves with little room to maneuver,” he explained.

After dropping back behind the fleet and rounding the first gate in eighth place, the Aussies crossed the finish line in fourth which, Mitchell said, ‘just shows how fast the Australians are’.


The first of the three Part 2 penalties recorded occurred between Canada and Switzerland in the first race. The Swiss were approaching the second gate in second place when a clumsy jibe to starboard saw them drop off the foils and stop in the mark zone. This caught the Canadians, who were approaching on port and had to keep clear, off guard.

“Canada got caught out,” Mitchell said. “They were a little slow to respond to the situation and tried to turn down to avoid, hoping to get around Switzerland’s bow, but it wasn’t enough.”

The penalty decision was delayed due to an umpire review of the incident, and Canada finished the race in fifth.

Season 3 // Australia Sail Grand Prix // Canada leads the fleet in training

Switzerland was also caught up in the second Part 2 penalty of the event, which again happened in the first race.

Spain, which was coming around the windward third gate, didn’t give enough room to Switzerland inside the boundary.

The third and final Part 2 penalty occurred in the third race of the day between France and Canada, and saw the Canadians penalized for a ‘straight forward windward/ leeward situation’, Mitchell said.

Season 3 // Australia Sail Grand Prix // Canada and France close cross

“France had jibed out of the boundary with Canada overlapped to windward. Canada then sailed over the top of France to grab the lead, but didn’t keep clear in the process,” Mitchell explained. “It took Canada a little time to slow enough to take the penalty, but they did gave the place back to France and managed to hang on to second place at Gate 4 from a surging GBR team.”

The fleet will next meet at the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch this month, with racing taking place on March 18&19.