SailGP’s commentators expect Australia driver Tom Slingsby to bounce back from the Christchurch mark collision which stripped the team of 8 season points, using the incident as ‘motivation’ in Bermuda.

The crash, which unfolded in the first fleet race of Christchurch, saw the Aussies struggle amid fleet congestion and plough into a race mark to avoid hitting Canada. The impact caused significant damage to the Aussie F50, landing them with a devastating 12 event point deduction and 8 season point deduction. Combined with New Zealand’s 10 point win, this saw Australia drop down the season rankings to second overall - 9 points behind the Kiwis.

Season 4 // Tom Slingsby inspects damage to Australia F50 in Christchurch

Commentator Todd Harris described the incident, which followed a three-boat pile up involving ROCKWOOL DEN, Canada and the United States in the pre-start, as ‘absolute chaos’ which caught the commentary team ‘totally off guard’.

Morrison echoed the sentiment, describing the ‘day-ending’ incident as ‘unthinkable’ during the broadcast.

Season 4 // Tom Slingsby debriefs Australia race mark collision in Christchurch

Slingsby has since criticized the placement of the mark out of the congested Mark 1 rounding, but Morrison said the challenges of the situation ‘were the same for everyone’. He conceded that it was ‘an unnecessary addition to the congestion’, but it was up to Slingsby to ‘find a solution’.

“It’s not like Australia didn’t know it was there, but in the heat of the battle maybe it wasn’t top of the list of things he was thinking about,” he said.

Season 4 // Australia crash into race mark in Christchurch

He agreed with Slingsby that the penalty ‘seemed very harsh’, but added ‘the rules are the rules’.

The number of incidents in the early stages of the first fleet race was a ‘byproduct’, Harris said, of the cancellation of racing on day one.

“Everyone was thinking racing could be delayed or cancelled again,” he said, “they felt it was their one shot and wanted to get a good finish.”

He added that during the pre-start the teams were ‘just frothing’ to get started and suggested the number of incidents was due to a lack of high end conditions in Season 4.

“I think when you come from conditions which aren’t as challenging, you can forget how fast these boats are and how quickly you can lose control,” he said. “You can’t put that many teams in that proximity and not get close calls - they’re aggressive and don’t want to give an inch.”

Season 4 // F50 fleet race in Christchurch

Morrison agreed that the reduced number of races in Christchurch ‘heightened the importance of each race’, but also pointed to the increased quality of racing throughout the fleet. “The fleet is getting better so they’re getting closer together - they don’t feel the need to yield.”

Despite the damage to Australia’s season score, both Morrison and Harris said they expect the three-time champions to come back strong when Bermuda gets underway next month. The Aussies picked up the ultimate victory during the league's last visit to the island in Season 3.

New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch | Season 4 | Fleet | Racing

“Tom is going to want to set the record straight,” Morrison said. “I’m confident they’ll come back in Bermuda and have a strong finish to the season.”

Harris agreed: “I’m very confident they will make the Grand Final - knowing Tom Slingsby, I imagine he’ll just use it as a motivation.”

The Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix takes place on May 4/5.