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Australia sustains major damage in dramatic collision on Lyttelton Harbour

by Australia SailGP Team 24 Mar 00:19 PDT 23-24 March 2024
Australia SailGP Team collide into the finish line marker in front of the grandstand resulting in damage to their F50 catamaran forcing them to retire from the event on Race Day 2 ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch, March 24, 2024 © Ricardo Pinto/SailGP

Tom Slingsby and his Australian crew have been hit with a devastating blow after a dramatic collision with a course mark during the first fleet race of the Championship Sunday forced the team to retire from racing altogether.

The collision occurred as Australia and Canada were approaching the first mark of the race at speed. Australia driver Tom Slingsby made a split second decision to manoeuvre away to avoid a potentially catastrophic collision with the Canada Team's F50 and crew, instead hitting the course mark, causing extensive damage to the Flying Roo.

Tom Slingsby said: "It all happened so quickly but at that moment I knew that we were going to hit Canada, so I had a choice to make and I wanted to keep people safe so I turned the boat as hard as I could into the course mark. I knew the mark was there but it was either that or go straight through Canada."

Slingsby was visibly shaken by the incident, saying to the media: "Honestly I am just happy that no one was hurt and we are all in shock. I don't think it has all sunk in and it's been pretty emotional for me. It is a really scary moment when you feel like you could kill someone."

The collision has caused irreparable damage to the front beam of the F50 with further damage sited to the port hull and board case. The full extent of the damage to the Australia F50 is still being reviewed by the SailGP Technical Team.

Following an initial investigation from the SailGP umpires, the Australia Team were determined to be at fault for the collision and have been docked 12 event points and 8 season points. The decision is currently being reviewed by SailGP umpires and the Australia Team.

Australia's biggest rivals, the recently-rebranded Black Foils - New Zealand SailGP Team - claimed victory on their home waters, followed by France who finished the podium final on Championship Sunday in second place and Canada in third.

The Australia Team will work alongside SailGP's Technical Team to assess the full extent of the damage to the F50 and commence urgent repairs, with the goal of having the Flying Roo back racing in Bermuda for the Apex Group Bermuda Grand Prix on 4-5 May 2024.

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