Canada’s historic win in Christchurch will provide a ‘big morale boost’ to the team after the ‘emotional experience’ of Sydney, driver Phil Robertson has said.
The Canadians went head to head against home favorites New Zealand and season leaders Australia on the waters of Whakaraupō, Lyttelton Harbour in a race packed with close crosses and dramatic moments. Despite falling off the foils and even picking up a boundary penalty, it was Robertson’s team that came out on top, bursting across the finish line ahead of the Kiwis.
Speaking after racing, Robertson said the historic win meant even more coming off the back of an ‘emotional’ event in Sydney. Canada’s wing and brand new F50 sustained significant damage in an extreme weather incident shortly after racing on the first day.
While the crew had ‘a tough time’ as a result of the incident, the adversity ‘brought the team together’.
“That’s massive for any team sport, so we’re a tight group now and to get a win like that is pretty special,” he said.
Canada’s first event win comes after the team lost out in the Finals of Bermuda and Chicago at the beginning of the season. Since then, Canada has finished in the mid-to-bottom fleet.
Robertson said he was ‘stoked’ to get ‘the monkey’ of an event win ‘off our back’, adding, ‘there’s not many teams that have got a SailGP win’.
Strategist Isabella Bertold added: “We’ve been working so hard behind the scenes and for it all to come together and cross the finish line was absolutely incredible.”
Robertson dissected the moment Canada picked up a boundary penalty on the sixth leg of the race. It came soon after New Zealand briefly took the lead on the fifth leg of the race and could have opened the door for a second Kiwi overtake. However, the penalty cleared quickly, allowing Canada to recover and regain speed on the approach to the finish line.
“In hindsight, we could have done a slightly better job of staying on front - we let them into the game, but managed to seal it at the top.”
He reflected on the ‘little error’, estimating that the boundary infringement ‘must only have been a couple of inches’.
“I actually thought we would have been fine, so I was surprised to hear we got a penalty, but it is what it is and it actually probably set us up alright for the rest of the race,” he added.
Canada’s triumph now means a total of five teams have won an event in Season 3, with Canada joining Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States.