Tuesday, 13 December 2011

PERTH 2011; Case 48; RRS 69.1 against Ainslie

From the Perth 2011 Jury Notice Board: Case 48.pdf:


Rule 69.1 Hearing based on report from Organizing Authority
Ben Ainslie (Finn GBR 3)

Facts Found

As the first two boats in Finn Race 9 rounded the gate for the second beat and headed towards the shore, a media boat followed close to leeward of the leader. This caused wash for GBR 3, who attempted to wave the media boat off.
When the leaders passed through the gate and headed towards the finishing line, the same media boat followed the leader to the finishing line leaving a large wake, which again affected GBR 3's race.

The media boat crossed the finishing line and then stopped in front of GBR 3 after GBR 3 finished. As GBR 3 came alongside, the skipper jumped aboard the media boat.

The skipper grabbed and shook the boat driver, shouting 'You have no respect!' He then walked towards another member of the media boat's crew, but made no contact with him. He then jumped into the water, swam to his boat and sailed away.

On coming ashore, the skipper of GBR 3 wrote a letter of apology and delivered it to the media boat driver. The media boat driver accepted that apology and apologised in a letter for disturbance during the race.


The action of jumping on a media boat with anger and grabbing the driver constitutes physical aggression. Such behaviour is never an acceptable response. Such behaviour not only constitutes a gross breach of good manners but also, coming from a top athlete at a world championship, brings the sport of sailing into disrepute.

However, the repeated nature of the media boats interference over multiple legs is a mitigating circumstance, as is the prompt and unsolicited written apology given to the boat driver.


GBR 3 is to be scored DGM (disqualification non-excludable for gross misconduct) for Races 9 and 10.


Decision given at 22:40 December 9, 2011
International Jury: Bernard Bonneau (Chairman), Jim Capron, Josje Hofland, Ana Sanchez, Marianne Middelthon


The matter has been dealt with at the event. Is it now over?

Reading Rule 69.1(c):

The protest committee shall promptly report a penalty, but not a warning, to the national authorities of the venue, of the competitor and of the boat owner. If the protest committee is an international jury appointed by the ISAF under rule 89.2(b), it shall send a copy of the report to the ISAF.

That means that four ‘higher’ authorities will be send a report. The Australian MNA: Yachting Australia (because the venue was Perth), the RYA (Ainslie is from GBR), the MNA of the boat-owner (if that is an MNA other than from Australia or Great Britain) and the ISAF.

In all likely hood Yachting Australia and the ISAF will defer from investigating and leave the matter in the hands of the RYA. They are now the first to respond. But if the decision of the RYA is not appropriate in the eyes of either YA or the ISAF, they can then start there own investigation and decide on whether an additional sanction is warranted.


  1. I'm almost on the verge of putting money on his prompt apology and contrition leading to a slap on the wrists. I think politics may well be the deciding factor here, after all.
    YA won't want to be seen to exclude Ben from the Olympics (to potential Aussie advantage, however slim), so they won't sanction him. The RYA could potentially take the moral high road and ban him- obviously team GBR has colossal strength in depth- sending a clear message about how intolerable the action was. However, they could also point to the virtual loss of a world title and the apology and say enough has been done, thus protecting someone who has a reasonable "outisde of sailing" profile- a profile that will grow massively if he wins in Weymouth in August.

    I know there are precedents, but none are directly comparable- which gives the authorities wiggle room here. He's certainly no Brodie Cobb

  2. It's clear that the race organizers screwed up bigtime in allowing that media boat to interfere with racing in such a blatant way. Who was responsible for such gross incompetence? Can we be assured that they will never again be allowed to participate in the management of a high level regatta? Can we also be assured that the driver of the media boat will be banned from assuming that role at all future major regattas? What is ISAF going to do to make sure we don't see a repeat of media boats interfering with racing like this at future regattas, including the Olympics?

    Oh silly me. Of course there will be no sanctions against the real guilty parties here. It's all about the TV and the sponsors these days. Who gives a flying fig about the racers?

  3. Since the incident occurred in race 9, why the DSQ also in race 10?

  4. The incident occurred after race 9, while Ainslie was not racing. A rule 69 protest is against a person not the boat; so any penalty (within the jurisdiction of the panel) can be applied.
    This IJ was apparently not happy with a disqualification for one race, but wanted it to be applied to both races of that day.
    The scoring was not DSQ but DGM (disqualification non-excludable for gross misconduct).
    The fact that Ainslie had a BFD for race 10 has no bearing on the case.

  5. Well said Tillerman,I'm 100% with you. In addition, considering modern photograph technology, is it really necessary for these people to be vitually alongside their subject?
    Alfie Bell


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