__SailGP’s chief umpire Craig Mitchell has unpacked all the penalty action from Sydney, which saw the F50 fleet return to full foiling conditions after a series of light wind events. __

Despite the return of windier conditions, the number of penalties and protests were fewer than at recent events. A total of 34 protests lodged by teams across the two days of racing, resulting in one Part 2 (boat on boat) incident, three OCS early start penalties and six boundary penalties.

Season 4 // Fleet with Sydney Harbour background

There were marginally more boundary penalties in Sydney than previous events most likely due to the cancellation of practice race day, which meant teams didn't have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the course ahead of official racing.

Of the six recorded boundary penalties, half were handed to Switzerland for straying outside of course limits, while the remaining three were handed to Spain, Germany and New Zealand.

Australia Sail Grand Prix | Sydney | Season 4 | Switzerland | Racing

Elsewhere, the only Part 2 incident occurred on the second day of racing, with Spain and Canada’s long-rumbling feud reigniting in the fifth fleet race.

The incident saw Spain penalized for not giving Canada room at the mark, which Mitchell described as ‘an easy call’.

“Spain was on the layline to the left turn, Canada, approaching on port, was entitled to mark-room and Spain just wasn’t able to generate the space for Canada in time. A pretty big error by Spain,” he explained.

Season 4 // Spain and Canada close rounding at the mark in Sydney

Alongside its three boundary penalties, Switzerland picked up an early start penalty at the beginning of Fleet Race 5, which sent them to the back of the pack and resulted in the team finishing the race in last place.

The other two OCS penalties were handed to Australia and New Zealand in the Final, with the Aussies crossing the line early after trying to force the Danish off the start line. They crossed the line with 0.6 seconds to go until the gun, which Mitchell described as ‘a simple misjudgement’.

Season 4 // ROCKWOOL DEN and Australia underway in Sydney Final


There were several close incidents throughout the Final as ROCKWOOL DEN and Australia jostled for the lead. A crucial moment unfolded at Gate 3, when Australia stole the lead by gaining the inside track around the mark. Mitchell explained: “The two boats were level pegging and then Australia found a shift on the left side of the course that gave them a 10m advantage - allowing Australia to tack inside Denmark and grab the right of way along with room at the left turn gate mark. There was a protest from Denmark but the umpires considered that Australia passed through head to wind, became right of way and gave Denmark room to keep clear. SailGP has deleted the tacking rule (13) from their rule book.”

A similar situation unfolded at Gate 5, which saw ROCKWOOL DEN approach on the inside. However ‘the big difference’, Mitchell said, was that the Danish had a ’14 meter deficit on the advantage lines’ which meant they couldn’t pull off the same manoeuvre that Australia had the previous time.'

No redress for Canada

It was a disappointing weekend for Phil Robertson’s Canada, which was prevented from starting Fleet Race 2 and 3 due to technical issues. The issues were resolved by the start of Race Day 2, but with no points awarded in Fleet Races 2 & 3, Canada was unable to make up the deficit and finished the event in last place.

Season 4 // Phil Robertson on day one of Sydney Canada tech troubles

Speaking after racing, Robertson called for points redress due to the technical issues, but Mitchell said this ‘isn’t something that the league is currently considering’. “Making redress fair for everyone is hard, and no one ever agrees on what should be given and when they should or shouldn’t get it, it’s much simpler not to open the door, and that way it’s the same for everyone, brutal as it may be.” he said.

Season 4 // Canada hit by wave on second day of racing in Sydney

Robertson added that the incident proves ‘why practice is so important’. “If we’d had practice, the problem would have manifested itself and been fixed ahead of racing.”