The European portion of SailGP Season 4 got underway this weekend in Saint-Tropez, France. Having hit record breaking speeds last year on the Côte d’Azur, Phil Robertson and the Canadians were looking forward to this weekend of racing, but things did not turn out as hoped. A penalty in the pre-start of race one was a precursor of what was to come, and it proved difficult for the team to recover.
A collision with Spain early on in race one set the team back and translated into eight penalty points for the event and an additional four penalty points for the season.
Soon after rounding the mark, the Canadians had gybed and were on starboard, yet on a collision course with Spain. It was only at the last minute, that the Spanish altered course, despite being on port. The umpires ruled however, that Canada did not react to avoid collision. Driver Phil Robertson challenged the umpires’ allocation of penalty points, the appeal was heard, but denied.
“Unfortunately, we lost a lot of points on day one. They (ESP) didn't even bother to turn out of the way. We made a mistake just turning a bit late and slid into the side of them. I am still a bit puzzled as to why we were penalized so heavily,” commented Phil after racing.
"When you have ten boats doing these speeds on a small race track, they (the umpires) are going to be involved. I think we really need to review how they are making decisions because right now, the port tack boat has so much power and that is causing crashes. This one's been coming for a long time."
The SailGP Tech Team worked late into Saturday night to make the necessary repairs to the Canadian F50 SPIRIT and ensure that everything was back in working order for day two of racing.
On day two, the Canadians had a spectacular start in race four and were first to mark one, yet another tussle dropped the team back to finish in third. Then an eighth place in race five, meant tenth overall in the event.
The lineup for the France Sail Grand Prix final included Australia, Emirates GBR and Spain, with the British taking the win in the South of France this weekend.
New to the Canadian team is Strategist Annie Haeger, an Olympian (470 Class) who lives in Vancouver, who joined Driver Phil Robertson and the crew onboard.
“It’s nice to have one event under my belt. Obviously, not the result we were looking for, but we will go back and review everything, then take some key learnings. I’m already looking forward to Taranto,” said Annie.
As part of the Canada SailGP Team ‘s support of the weCANfoil programme, the team offers internship opportunities to a weCANfoil Development Athlete at every event. Tate Howell of Toronto took time out of her training with Canada’s youth and women’s AC40 squad to join the team in both Los Angeles and Saint-Tropez.
As things wrap up in Saint-Tropez, the team’s focus shifts to the next two European events in Taranto (22-23 September) and Cadiz (14-15 October).