Two Articles about Ben Ainslie's Rule 69 Gross Misconduct disqualification
Article #1 - A SYMPATHETIC OPINION?
by Roger McMillan, Editor. mysailing.com.au
Editorial: Ben Ainslie's Rule 69 Gross Misconduct disqualification tough but fair
11 Dec 2011
There is no doubt that the photographs show the incident in a very bad light. It is not a good message to send to the thousands of Opti kids and other young sailors who compete in the sport, and it is not the image of sailing we want splashed across newspapers all around the world. However, in my humble opinion, Ben's positive contribution to the sport massively outweighs any damage he has done in this one isolated incident, and this should be the end of the matter.
Opinions on the affair will no doubt range from those who think it's a storm in a teacup, and that the rib driver got what he deserved, to those who would have Ainslie thrown out for life. To help you make up your mind, here are a few facts you might like to consider:
》 The media rib had strayed right into the course area, and had in fact driven straight between Ainslie and the race leader, PJ Postma. The wake from the boat had almost swamped Ainslie's Finn and could easily have cost him vital places at a crucial time in the series.
》 This was not the first time it had happened during the regatta, according to Ainslie. He emphasised that he totally appreciated the need to get the sport onto television, but quite rightly said that this should not be at the expense of the sailors who are trying to sail to the best of their ability in the most important event of the year.
》 The incursion of the media boat was the equivalent of a football* cameraman running onto the pitch and impeding a player while trying to get the "money shot". Imagine the uproar if that happened in a World Cup final!
》 There is a saying that "the camera doesn't lie" and it certainly looks as though Ainslie grabbed the driver and also pushed a cameraman. Everyone involved, including Ainslie, the driver and the cameraman, insist that no physical contact took place. The lens foreshortens the distance between Ainslie and the driver, and in the incident where it appears he grabs the cameraman, Ainslie says he was just in a hurry to get off the boat and back to his dinghy and used the cameraman's shoulder to help him reach the foredeck.
》 The rib driver has acknowledged that he was in the wrong place and has apologised to Ainslie. Ainslie has acknowedged that he over-reacted and has apologised to the driver.
I have interviewed Ben Ainslie on a number of occasions and have always found him to be a total gentleman. He, as much as any other sailor I have ever spoken to, knows that the media are a necessary evil who have to have access to the leading names in the sport if it is to get the publicity it needs to grow - and to provide an income for the leading exponents such as Ainslie. Even when he would much rather wash his boat down and go for a shower, he will always stop and give me a few words that I can use.
I have also spoken with other sailors, who confirm that Ben Ainslie is not a man to be trifled with on the race course, and the gentleman I speak to is a far cry from the super-competitive animal that races a Finn.
In many ways, that is why the incident happened. Like other champions, Ben Ainslie sets very high standards for himself, and expects others, such as officials and race boat drivers, to operate at the same level. He also, quite rightly, expects to receive respect for his commitment and his ability. This respect was not forthcoming, and something snapped.
I know that Ben is bitterly disappointed that he won't be sailing the medal race. I know he thinks the penalty was too harsh. But once those photographs flashed around the world, the race committee had no option but to take action, and the jury had to impose a penalty.
I also know that Ainslie will never again be involved in an incident of this nature, and nor will anyone else who was here in Perth. The point has been made, the lesson has been learned.
There are still a lot of "what ifs" that will be debated over the coming weeks. "What if it had been an unknown instead of Ben Ainslie? Would they have rubbed him out for longer?" That will be the main question.
Again, in my humble opinion, the penalty fits the crime. Even if no contact took place, a serious breach of protocol occured and a Rule 69 infringement took place. A serious penalty had to be applied.
It is a tragedy for Ben, and a disappointment for every sailing fan, that he cannot win the world championship when he had sailed so brilliantly in conditions that are not ideal for his bodyweight. But if you do the crime, you do the time.
I reckon he's paid his price. Now let's leave him in peace, and look forward to seeing him compete for that fantastic fourth gold medal at his home Olympics. I, for one, hope he achieves his dream.
- Roger McMillan, Editor.
* Unlike disgraced footballers who when forced to front a media conference read from a pre-prepared statement, never making eye contact with the assembled hacks, Ainslie took the microphone, looked us in the eyes and spoke off-the-cuff. As always, he was polished and professional. This was after 11pm at night and he had not had time for dinner. Oh, did I remind you he had also just been disqualified from a world championship he was almost certain to win? One mistake should not cost a man his lifetime reputation.
Article #2 - THE DOWNSIDE OF THE INCIDENT and FORECAST FOR FUTURE?
by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team
Sailing as a TV sport – the downside Ainslie’s Rule 69
The demand from the IOC is that Olympic sports improve their ratings. ISAF has responded with medal races and here at Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, with a stadium course.
But television steps onto the field of play...
Yesterday, in the name of more exciting television, the ISAF contracted Sunset & Vine TV boat twice powered down the run, following the Finn class race leader Pieter Jan Postma and putting significant wash on Ben Ainslie.
Ainslie was seen to be shouting at the driver both times and even shook his fist the second time.
Then post race, Britain’s sailing superstar lost it completely. He stepped aboard the video boat and there was, at the very least, vigorous discussion.
Here are the facts found: DECISION OF THE INTERNATIONAL JURY-Case 48:
As a result of this decision Ainslie missed out on the 2011 Finn Class World Champion medal round.
Skip Lissiman, the Perth 2011 Competition Manager said this morning ‘The matter has been decided by the International Jury and there will be no further action.
‘There have been discussions between the TV company and the race management since the incident.’
Asked who would have directed the driver to position the boat where it was, would it have been the cameraman?
Lissiman said ‘I imagine so, but let’s say the driver has been re-directed.’
Tim Sewell, the ISAF Media Manager said 'a mistake was made.'
Going forward as ISAF is very keen to have television camera's amongst the action, it seems events, including the Olympic Games are going to have to insist that that host broadcaster's media boats are going to have to be of a design that throws much less wake than the ribs being used at this event.
Watching the Sunset & Vine media boats on the water today it did seem that the sailors were being given the respect that was clearly lacking yesterday.
As this is an International Jury, they are bound to report an adverse finding to the International Sailing Federation who under RRS69.2(c) may, in other words they are no obliged, to investigate and may also conduct a second Hearing, (which would allow them ISAF to hear and completely traverse all the available evidence). It can then decided what additional penalty, if any, should be imposed.
Ainslie's National Authority, the Royal Yachting Association also is informed, but would usually take their lead from the ISAF. The RYA have published a list of guidelines governing actions under RRS69 which can be read by clicking here (*) however these are only for UK national use.
(*) RYA Guidance on Misconduct: 「rya_misconduct_guidance_for_race_officials.pdf」をダウンロード
On the scale provided in Appendix B of the guidelines Ainslie's actions fit into a category 3-5 offence on a five point scale. From the penalty imposed it seems as though the Int Jury saw the incident as attracting a rating of three.
It is unusual when a case is upheld against a competitor for an additional penalty not be imposed, the usual minimum is about 12 months, with two years being the top end. That would clearly take Ainslie out of contentions for the 2012 Olympics, for which he has already been selected by the Royal Yachting Association.
The ISAF will be in some degree of anguish as to whether to further penalise the Golden Boy of British yachting and deprive him of the opportunity to win a fourth Gold Medal, and probably a further UK order of chivalry, against the signal sent to the rest of the sport over competitors being physically aggressive towards other competitors, media and officials.
One source who did not want to be named yesterday suggested a penalty of three months banning from competition could be imposed which could send a signal to sailors but not impinge on Ainslie's Olympic campaign.
by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team
6:18 PM Mon 12 Dec 2011