Racing in Saint Tropez got off to a dramatic start when a collision unfolded between Canada and Spain in the first race of the day.
The moment unfolded on the 4th leg of the race and saw Canada execute a late turn to avoid the Spanish. But it was too little, too late and the two boats clashed together before Canada received a penalty for the collision.
Speaking after racing, Spain driver Diego Botin said the Canadians ‘lost control’ of their F50. “We got round the left gate at the top and were alone, but it was super puffy and shifty there,” he explained. “We wanted to do a jibe and the next boat was quite far away - that was Canada.”
At this point Canada ‘bore away with a big gust” and came in at ‘high speed’. “I guess they lost control - they wanted to give us a penalty somehow but they lost control of the boat and their boat slid into us.”
Speaking from the post-racing Mixed Zone, Canada driver Phil Robertson admitted that the team ‘made a mistake of turning a bit late’. “We slid into the side of them, so that was an error on our part,” he said.
However, he remained ‘puzzled as to why [Canada] was penalized so heavily.’
“He [Diego Botin] didn’t even bother to try and turn out of the way,” he said. “He just stayed straight and I was always expecting him to start turning and a gap would have opened up.”
As a result of the incident, Canada was handed a devastating 8 event point penalty and 4-point deduction from its season score. This leaves Canada at the bottom of the leaderboard on the first day of Saint-Tropez with just 1 point.
Explaining the penalty, chief umpire Craig Mitchell said: “We penalized Canada on the water under Rule 16 of not giving Spain room to keep clear when Canada altered course. Damage was sustained - so that’s an 8-point penalty to Canada. Spain didn’t break Rule 14 so was not penalized.”
Racing resumes at 13:30 CEST on September 10.