Plymouth, UK (AP) — US skipper Jimmy Spithill avoided a collision at the start of Saturday’s third free race and won the Plymouth SailGP regatta to take the overall lead.
Spithill also led the American 50-foot foil catamaran to finish second and fifth in Plymouth Sound, slightly leading France and Australia at the top of the eight-team fleet.
When Spanish helmsman Phil Robertson dived into the line, American boats had a right of way just before the start of the third race. This raised concerns among league officials in previous regatta.
Spithill quickly bored to avoid contact, and crewman Rohm Kirby protested the referee’s infringement of the race, which disqualified the Spanish team. This was the first “black flag” decision in SailGP’s two seasons.
“How many times do I have to see it?” Spithill said. “It’s clear that Phil has done this multiple times. It’s not his first crime, it’s far past the strikeout. I’m totally surprised to see him flagged black. Absent.
“He intended to hit Mark and hurt someone on the boat, or hit us and hurt someone on the boat,” Spithill said. “When they see it happen in MotoGP or F1, they start punishing drivers and penalizing them because they can hurt others. He does that. I think the fact that this is not the first time justifies it. “
The Black Flag disqualification was enacted to prevent contact between boats after the opening regatta of the wild season in Bermuda. The Americans were knocked out of the regatta after their boat was attacked by Team Japan.
“Our starting tactic was to come early and find the gap,” Robertson said. “From my side, I felt like I had decided the timing of the start, but I heard that there was an infringement. It was close, but I did not infringe. It may have been the limit. I don’t think I should have been disqualified. I didn’t do anything wrong. “
Australian skipper Tom Slingsby supported former America’s Cup crewmate Spit Hill.
“My mental penalty should have been more severe as he continued to do so,” Slingsby said of Robertson. “He relies on other boats to react. If Jimmy didn’t react, there could have been a catastrophe and someone was injured.”
Upon clearing, Spithill accelerated and extended his lead for a compelling victory. Americans are in a fierce battle for qualification for the podium final on Sunday. After the two free traces on Sunday, the top three teams will advance to the final race.
Spithill reached the three-boat final race at the last regatta in Taranto, Italy, but his catamaran hit a submerged object and finished third.
“To win the trophy and finally $ 1 million, we need to compete in as many final races as possible to compete in the ultimate finals in San Francisco. That’s our goal.” Said Spithill. “We’ve got over the weekend and haven’t finished all the races without anything happening, so we take it every day. We’re always learning.”
Slingsby piloted Australia to win the first two races and finish seventh in the third race. Billy Besson’s French team was third.
“We got off to a good start, but we have a long way to go,” said Slingsby, who had to connect three new crew members at this regatta because of the Olympics and family commitment. It was. “We are sailing well, getting off to a good start, sailing with confidence, and showing that it is difficult to pull back if we move forward.”
The Australian, who won the first championship with a $ 1 million winner in 2019, is about to recover from the eighth-place finish in the previous regatta. It was the first time they didn’t finish in 1st or 2nd place.
The United States has 19 points, followed by France and Australia with 18 points, Denmark 12, New Zealand 11, Spain 10, Japan 9 and the United Kingdom 8.