Spithill's Coach - Tougher Safety Rules after Bermuda Carnage
Japan & USA boats on the Great Sound
Jimmy Spithill’s coach has called for SailGP to introduce tougher safety measures after the dramatic collision in the season-opening regatta in Bermuda.
Spithill, helming the United States boat, found himself the victim of some wayward work from Japan skipper Nathan Outteridge as the two boats took on considerable damage in their high-speed impact last Sunday.
Japan rode over the top of the American catamaran, dropping down on the windward hull and becoming tangled.
Japan had to retire with a holed hull while Spithill soon capsized as his steering system was damaged in the impact.
Frenchman Philippe Presti has been Spithill’s coach during the peak of his America’s Cup success and is back alongside him in SailGP. Presti fears injuries and even bigger boat damage could happen in these foiling cats that are exceeding 50 knots if something isn’t done to address safety measures.
Presto gave his take on the crash between his United States team and the Japanese, revealing the American crew was blindsided.
“We were on the right-of-way starboard with a boat on the port side that saw us and thought it could go ahead. When he (Outterdige) realized that was not possible, he made the mistake of choosing to tack and he did it slowly to lower his foil when he could have done it much faster, which would have allowed him to avoid us,” Presti told Foils and Foilers.
“The American crew did not see him because he was in the blind spot of the mast and the racing software screen.
“The Japanese boat got stuck between the shroud and the centerboard, but above all, it broke the bit of a rudder. When we managed to free ourselves, the lack of connection of the rudders caused us to capsize.
“It was very disappointing, a very unpleasant feeling like that of a Formula One driver who gets knocked out at the first corner of a Grand Prix …
“In short, I think we will need new rules to force the crews to put a little distance between the boats. The penalty system is not dissuasive enough in my opinion. There is not enough to lose when taking risks.”
To add to their frustration, Spithill and his team finished the regatta bottom of the leader board after they had proven pretty competitive in training and on the opening day of the event in Bermuda.
Presti said opportunities to sail the SailGP cats were limited, which meant losing racing or training time through boat damage had to be avoided as much as possible.