The collision between Spain and Canada on the first day of racing in Saint-Tropez has been dissected by chief umpire Craig Mitchell.
The collision occurred on the fourth leg of the first fleet race, with Canada executing a late turn towards the Spanish.
But the umpires ruled the subsequent evasive action to avoid the collision was too little, too late, and Canada was hit with a painful 8-point event penalty and 4-point deduction from its season score for not avoiding contact under Rule 14.
Canada driver Phil Robertson staunchly disagreed with the punishment and requested a penalty points review, but the umpires remained resolute on their decision after hearing evidence from both teams.
Explaining the on water decision, chief umpire Craig Mitchell said Canada had infringed Rule 16 by not giving Spain room to keep clear when the Canadians had altered course.
“In most circumstances, you wouldn’t give a penalty for Rule 16 unless there’s contact,” Mitchell explained. “In this case, there was contact and we found Canada at fault - we felt they had options to give room to Spain as they turned and avoid contact but they didn’t take them.”
Speaking from the post-racing Mixed Zone, Canada driver Phil Robertson admitted that the team ‘made a mistake of turning a bit late’. “We slid into the side of them, so that was an error on our part,” he said.
This chimed with Mitchell’s assessment that Canada ‘didn’t have as much grip with the foils as they thought.’
Due to the damage sustained in the collision - which required repairs to be made to the Canada F50 overnight - Canada was handed an 8-point penalty.
Canada was the most penalized boat of the weekend - picking up a total of three Part 2 and one boundary penalty, while Emirates GBR and ROCKWOOL DEN were the only two teams not to receive any penalties at all.
Across the weekend, a total of 44 protests were lodged, resulting in 8 Part 2 penalties, 7 boundary infringements and 2 early start OCS penalties.
The F50 fleet will next meet at the ROCKWOOL Italy Sail Grand Prix in Taranto on September 23-24.