Furious Canada targets SailGP after Sydney disaster

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

The Canadian F50 catamaran began losing hydraulic functions shortly after the start of the first of three fleet races on Sydney Harbor on Saturday.

By the time Australia crossed the finish line first, Canada’s entire hydraulic system had failed, leaving the boat to stumble to last place.

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

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

Canada watched Australia and Denmark rise to the top of the event standings.

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, Canada still didn’t know what caused the problem and didn’t know if he would race on the second and final day on Sunday.

Canadian Phil Robertson (centre), celebrating his previous SailGP victory, was furious in Sydney. (AP Photo)

Robertson has already contacted SailGP boss Russell Coutts to seek redress, but the driver has remained pessimistic.

“We’ve already talked 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 can be put on the water.

This left Robertson wondering how SailGP could wash its hands of the hydraulic problem.

“I’m actually pretty mad,” he said.

“I think the league is really poor, to be honest. You come here and you’re promised a boat to run with.

“Nothing is in our control. We don’t have the right to touch the boat, we don’t have the right to repair the boat.

“We’re promised a boat that’s ready to race. When you don’t get a boat that’s ready to race, it’s out of your hands and it upsets you.

“When it stops like that and breaks down, you have to ask questions, and questions have to be asked.

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

Robertson was particularly frustrated given SailGP canceled official testing for most of the fleet on Friday as storms brewed in Sydney.

Only Germany and the United States were allowed to sail, with the former taking part in 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 fix them before race day,” Robertson said.

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

The Sydney SailGP, the eighth of 13 events this season, has serious ramifications for a Canadian team that finds itself deep in a deadlock in the overall standings.

Heading into Sydney, Canada was in eighth place, but was just six points behind the third-place United States.

If Canada finishes last in Sydney, the team will only earn one point overall and lose even more ground.

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

“Right now it’s suck it up, take it on the chin and move on.”

Alec Dittman

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