SailGP’s Season 3 showdown in San Francisco was packed with tight crosses, tense moments and dramatic penalties.
A total of 48 protests were recorded across the racing weekend, resulting in 10 Part 2 (boat on boat) penalties and six boundary penalties, which punish teams for straying outside course limits. No early start penalties were recorded across the five fleet races and three-boat Grand Final.
Phil Robertson’s Canada picked up a total of three Part 2 penalties as a result of its ‘high risk, high reward’ strategy in an attempt to claim fifth place in Season 3 overall, chief umpire Craig Mitchell said.
Three close calls with Australia, France and Denmark earned the Canadians the three Part 2 penalties.
The majority of the Part 2 penalties recorded across the weekend occurred on Saturday - with six port/ starboard incidents recorded as teams went all out to secure Championship points. On Sunday however, the incidents quietened down.
“Sunday had one less race and New Zealand and Emirates GBR were focused on consolidating their positions to make sure they made it into the Grand Final,” Mitchell said.
Port/ starboard incidents were also reduced as more teams on the port tack opted to dip behind the starboard boat, rather than attempt to cross ahead.
Meanwhile half of the boundary penalties recorded across the weekend were handed to Sebastien Schneiter’s Switzerland, which finished the event in seventh behind New Zealand.
“These looked like board drop timing errors rather than the team trying to gain an advantage by going out of bounds,” Mitchell said.
The most penalized boat of the event meanwhile was Jimmy Spithill’s United States, which was docked eight event points and four season points for colliding with Denmark on the start line of the fourth fleet race.
Mitchell likened the incident to a similar situation between New Zealand and Switzerland on the start line of the fifth fleet race in Dubai where ‘the boat astern sees a gap and goes for it, but it closes up before they can get through it’.
“Spain was further to leeward so Denmark didn’t have many options or anywhere to go because they would have had a problem with the Spanish,” Mitchell said, attributing the incident to ‘a misjudgment on the part of the United States’.
The incident also meant the United States was docked a total of eight championship points across Season 3, without which they would have been ‘within touching distance’ of Denmark and Canada in fifth and sixth place, instead of finishing the Championship in seventh.