WATCH: Brit goes overboard in chaotic SailGP race

Ben Ainslie, driver of the Emirates Great Britain SailGP Team, has relived the moment grinder Matt Gotrel fell through the fairing of the British F50 on the first day of racing in Sydney.

The team was on the final stretch to the finish line of the first fleet race and travelling close to 50 m/h when Gotrel fell through the fairing during a jibe.

Ainslie described the incident as “a pretty insane situation”, adding that the first thoughts that went through his head were “oh my god, how are we going to resolve this one?”

While in the water, Gotrel remained attached to the F50 via his safety line. Fortunately, the Emirates GBR crew promptly stopped the boat and was able to pull Gotrel back on board. The team finished the race in sixth place.

Following the race, Gotrel was taken to hospital for a check-up — he sustained muscular strain to his right hip and legs, and some bruising from the impact but was promptly discharged.

“We were in pretty good shape in the race and went into a jibe, and we had to take some evasive action on Canada — that little bit of movement on the boat sent Matt just flying through the fairing,” says Ainslie.

“He was like a rag doll at the end of his tether with two foils up quite high.

“We managed to stop the boat, get him back on board and he’s a pretty tough guy — he said ‘keep going, keep going’, and we salvaged a sixth place from what could have been a last place.”

A SailGP risk and safety spokesperson says Gotrel was crossing the boat when a sudden movement caught him off guard. As a result, he slipped onto the forward fairing (non-load-bearing material) and fell through.

“He landed in the water but remained attached to the F50 by his safety tether. His PPE performed as designed and helped protect him from serious injury. His fellow athletes were quickly able to help him out of the water as the boat slowed.”

Ben Ainslie’s team survived a spectacular capsize in the choppy waters of the Bay of Cádiz last October (2022). Watch the spectacular footage via MIN.

The second day of racing at Sydney this weekend was marred by a freak storm, which ripped through the SailGP technical site and caused significant damage to the wing sail of Team Canada’s F50. Organisers have confirmed future SailGP events will likely be delayed after the second day of racing was cancelled.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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