Driver of Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team Ben Ainslie has relived the moment grinder Matt Gotrel fell through the fairing of the British F50 on the first day of racing in Sydney.
The team was on the final stretch to the finish line of the first fleet race and traveling close to 50 m/h when Gotrel fell through the fairing during a jibe.
While in the water, Gotrel remained attached to the F50 via his safety line. Fortunately, the Emirates GBR crew promptly stopped the boat and was able to pull Gotrel back on board. The team was even able to finish the race in sixth place.
Following the race, Gotrel was taken to hospital for a check up - he sustained muscular strain to his right hip and legs and some bruising from the impact but was promptly discharged.
Speaking after racing, Ainslie described the incident as ‘a pretty insane situation’, adding that the first thoughts that went through his head were ‘oh my god, how are we going to resolve this one?’
“We were in pretty good shape in the race and went into a jibe and we had to take some evasive action on Canada - that little bit of movement on the boat sent Matt just flying through the fairing,” Ainslie said. “He was like a rag doll at the end of his tether with two foils up quite high.”
He added: "We managed to stop the boat, get him back on board and he’s a pretty tough guy - he said 'keep going, keep going', and we salvaged a 6th place from what could have been a last place."
Speaking about the incident, a SailGP risk and safety spokesperson said Gotrel 'crossing the boat' when a 'sudden movement caught him off guard'. As a result, 'he slipped onto the forward fairing (non load bearing material) and fell through'.
"He landed in the water but remained attached to the F50 by his safety tether. His PPE performed as designed and helped protect him from serious injury. His fellow athletes were quickly able to help him out the water as the boat slowed."
Emirates GBR finished the day with a 6-6-2 racing record and fourth overall heading into the second day.