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Australia's dramatic capsize caused by "tech malfunction" ruins their chances in Halifax

by Australia SailGP Team 2 Jun 21:14 PDT 1-2 June 2024
Australia SailGP Team helmed by Tom Slingsby capsize during the second race on Race Day 2 of the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix in Halifax, Canada © Katelyn Mulcahy for SailGP

The ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix witnessed a disastrous turn of events as Tom Slingsby's Australia SailGP Team encountered a dramatic capsize caused by a tech malfunction, sending shockwaves among fans who watched on from the Halifax shoreline.

The Australians were in with a shot to make the final, with the team taking a convincing lead in the fifth fleet race, until disaster struck for Slingsby's crew with a technical malfunction causing the team to capsize.

Luckily no one onboard was injured, with Slingsby describing the moment saying, "We were just as shocked as anyone. We were just going upwind and got out to a nice lead and were happy until the wing inverted the wrong way."

It was a pretty dangerous situation, but I am glad that everyone is okay. There is a lot of g-force when these things happen and I knew I was going to fall out of the cockpit so I held on tight onto the wheel. Tash did an amazing job, she was in no man's land and she scrambled up to get a hold of the shroud which held her in on the impact."

After reviewing the data and onboard footage, Slingsby's crew could determine that it was caused by a button malfunction, with a further investigation to be completed with the SailGP Technical Team.

Tom Slingsby said: "There was a button malfunction. Essentially the boat registered that a button had been pressed which hadn't been. When this button on the boat malfunctions and it inverts the wing it's pretty much an instant capsize. We saw this happen with the US team in Bermuda, but the difference is that theirs was caused by human error - someone accidentally pressing the button to invert the wing - whereas ours was caused by the tech malfunctioning."

The extent of the damage to the Australian F50 is still being reviewed by SailGP's Technical Team.

There was also drama before the racing even commenced, with high winds delaying the ability to crane all ten F50s into the water ahead of racing. SailGP was forced to make the difficult decision to prioritise teams in order of event standings following the first day of racing, which meant Switzerland and the United States were not able to race.

Emirates Great Britain managed to take the win in Halifax, beating France and ROCKWOOL Denmark in the final. Slingsby's crew finished the ROCKWOOL Canada Sail Grand Prix in seventh place on 26 points.

Spain's dominant performance this weekend has also forced the Australians out of second and into third position on the Season 4 Championship standings.

Slingsby said: "If you asked me two months ago that we'd be in third overall and teams hot on our heels to make the final in San Fran, I would have said there's not a chance. The way things have gone with the rough penalty ruling in Christchurch, to tech issues in Bermuda and now a tech issue in Halifax, it's really frustrating."

The leaderboard shake up now sees five teams in close contention to make the Grand Final, so New York, the 12th stop of the Season 4 Calendar, will prove to be an all-important turning point for the Australians with just one event remaining before the Grand Final in San Francisco on July 13-14.

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