SailGP’s team of umpires will be ‘keeping an eye’ on teams intentionally causing their competitors ‘pain’ as the Season 3 enters its final stages in Christchurch.
Heightened stakes amid a congested Championship leaderboard could result in more tense situations between the top four teams during the next two events in Christchurch and San Francisco, chief umpire Craig Mitchell said.
While Tom Slingsby’s Australia has a commanding 12-point lead at the top of the leaderboard, New Zealand is hanging on to second place by a thin one-point lead ahead of the French.
Meanwhile Quentin Delapierre’s team is just two points ahead of Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, which is eyeing up a return to the top three in Christchurch.
Only the top three teams will go head to head in the three-boat, winner-takes-all showdown at the Season 3 Grand Final in San Francisco this May.
This, Mitchell said, is likely to up the ante when teams hit the water for two days of fast and furious racing on Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbor in Christchurch.
He specifically highlighted ‘the British, the French and the Kiwis’ as teams ‘trying to push each other back’.
“They’ll be fighting for every point and if they get the opportunity to stop their rivals from scoring points they’ll take it.”
As a result, the league's team of umpires will be ‘keeping an eye on all the mini match races that will be going on’.
“Everyone is becoming more and more aware that when we get to the sharp end and it’s this close, they will do almost anything to improve their chances.”
Mitchell added that the ‘fight for the last place in the Grand Final’ is ‘really starting to ramp up’, and suggested Nicolai Sehested’s Denmark, currently in fifth, could make a last-minute dash for the podium. “They’re still in the mix."
The fleet will do battle against the backdrop of Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbour across two days of racing on March 18 & 19.