Clean sailing and light winds resulted in largely incident-free racing in Chicago, with just 10 penalties recorded across the two days of racing.
These comprised three early start (OCS) penalties, five boat-on-boat Part 2 penalties and two boundary penalties, which punish teams for staying outside of course limits.
The early start penalties were all dished out on the second day of racing, with light winds making it difficult for teams to correctly judge starting times.
Jimmy Spithill’s United States picked up an early start penalty in the fourth fleet race for crossing the line just 1.5 seconds early, while the rest of the fleet lingered behind the line.
Only Australia and Canada crossed the line in ‘a timely manner’, or within six seconds of the gun, according to chief umpire Craig Mitchell, while the rest were considered delayed starters under penalty rules. This was why the USA penalty was cleared so quickly.
Elsewhere, both Australia and Emirates GBR were handed early start penalties in the fifth fleet race. While Australia cleared their penalty by the time they got to the first mark, Emirates GBR failed to do so, resulting in Ben Ainslie’s team being sent to the back of the fleet behind Germany. “That was a very painful penalty because the race was very short - just three legs,” explained Mitchell. “There was no coming back from that.”
The five boat-on-boat penalties meanwhile took place across all five races, with a key close moment unfolding in the second race between New Zealand and France. The Kiwis were first to jibe after Mark One and were leading down to Gate 2 when the French came in on their tail to grab an overlap. The Kiwis cut up France and were swiftly handed a penalty for not giving room to Quentin Delapierre’s team at the mark.
Another moment of contention unfolded between Spain and the United States in the fourth fleet race when the umpires ruled that Spain hadn’t established an overlap before claiming the inside track from the U.S. The infraction earned the Spanish a penalty but that wasn’t enough for the Americans, who claimed the Spanish knew what they were doing and should have been further penalized. However, the umpires weren’t certain Spain deliberately broke the rules and didn't hand out an additional penalty.
Elsewhere, one of the most dramatic moments of the weekend unfolded on the start line of the second fleet race when Tom Slingsby’s Australia bailed out of the start and circled round behind the back of the fleet.
Slingsby made the decision when he realized he wouldn’t be able to burn the spare time before the gun, but it was too late to opt for an early start penalty without risking hitting the start mark. Instead, he chose to cross the line 400m behind the fleet. Despite this, the Aussies performed an incredible recovery, finishing the race in fifth.