SailGP’s commentators have dissected the near miss between Spain and Canada in Cádiz after labelling the incident Canada’s ‘payback for Saint-Tropez’.
The incident unfolded on the first day of racing in Cádiz as the two boats approached a turning mark. Approaching the right turn on starboard, Canada had the right of way. But indecision by the Spanish on which way to turn to give Canada room saw them end up between Canada and the mark.
The incident culminated with Spain hitting the mark in efforts to avoid hitting Canada - resulting in a 4-point penalty for damage caused to the Spanish F50.
The incident came after Canada picked up an 8-point penalty for hitting Spain during racing in Saint-Tropez.
SailGP’s commentators unpacked the last-minute decision by Canada to take the right-hand turn moments after Phil Robertson’s team had been heading to the left.
Stevie Morrison said there was ‘no reason to turn right there other than to shut the door on the Spanish’ and highlighted Robertson’s background as a ‘an aggressive match race sailor’.
However, he said it was an ‘odd decision’. “He was 4th going into that situation and he finished the race in 8th - if he turned left, he would have been 4th or 3rd,” he said.
He described the incident as a ‘playbook move on the Spanish for a situation he [Robertson] felt wronged by’. “That’s up to him, but it’s not going to win races,” Morrison added, “You’re racing 9 other boats, not one.”
Commentator Todd Harris agreed that the Canadians ‘didn’t look like they had any intention of taking the right-hand gate’ and asked ‘why sail extra meters to get to it?’
He added that he doesn’t think Spain driver Diego Botin is ‘reckless or risky’. “I think he saw an opening,” he said, “I think everyone else would have done the same thing [take the right-hand gate] and I don’t think Phil would have acted like that to anyone else.”
Reflecting on the incident, Morrison suggested it would have been ‘a frustrating moment for the Canadian management and the rest of the team’.
The F50 fleet will next meet for battle at the last event of 2023 - the Emirates Dubai Sail Grand Prix Presented by P&O Marinas on December 9-10.