Furious Canada take aim at SailGP after Sydney disaster

Furious Canada driver Phil Robertson has demanded answers from SailGP organisers after hydraulic issues forced his boat to retire on day one of the Sydney event.

The Canadian F50 catamaran began losing hydraulic function shortly after the first of three fleet races began on Sydney Harbour on Saturday.

By the time Australia crossed the line first, Canada’s entire hydraulic system had failed, leaving the boat to sputter to a last-placed finish.

“These boats are run hydraulically, and if you don’t have any pumps pushing oil around, your boat doesn’t work. It’s very disappointing,” Robertson said.

Organisers delayed the start of the second race to give Canada a chance to fix the issue on the water, but the boat was retired after no solution could be found.

Canada watched on as Australia and Denmark charged to the top of the event leaderboard.

At 7pm on Saturday, Canada were still unsure what had caused the problem, and did not know whether they would race on the second and final day on Sunday.

Robertson has already approached SailGP boss Russell Coutts to seek redress for the failure, but the driver was left pessimistic.

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“We’ve already spoken and there’s nothing,” Robertson said.

To ensure a level playing field, SailGP prohibits teams from modifying their multimillion-dollar boats, and can dictate the times they are able to be taken out on the water.

That has left Robertson to question how the SailGP could wash its hands of the hydraulic issue.

“I’m actually pretty furious,” he said.

“I think it’s really poor by the league, to be honest. You come here, promised a boat to race with.

“Nothing’s in our control. We’re not allowed to touch the boat, we’re not allowed to repair the boat.

“We are promised a boat, race-ready. When you don’t get a boat that’s race-ready, it’s out of your hands and it does piss you off.

“When it shuts down like that and breaks, you’ve got to ask questions, and there needs to be questions asked.

“There probably won’t and that’s disappointing.”

Robertson was particularly frustrated given SailGP cancelled official practice for most of the fleet on Friday as thunderstorms brewed in Sydney.

Only Germany and the USA were permitted on the water, with the former racing their first Sydney SailGP and the latter undergoing crew changes since last year.

“Usually, when we do our training day, you find these bugs and you resolve them before the race day,” Robertson said.

“But without having any time to go sailing, it’s pretty frustrating.”

The Sydney SailGP, the eighth of 13 events this season, has serious ramifications for a Canadian team that sits at the bottom of a logjam on the overall rankings.

Before Sydney, Canada stood in eighth place but were only six points behind third-placed USA.

If Canada finish last in Sydney, the team will earn only one point on the overall rankings and would fall further off the pace.

“There has to be some ramifications and maybe something for the team,” Robertson said.

“At the moment, it’s suck it up and take it on the chin, and move on.”

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