Ben loses rag - discuss!

10/12/2011 19:37:16
Stud Muffin
Well this one is set to run.

Should Ben be due any redress for the interference of the media boat?
Did Postma get outside assistance (involuntary)?
Should the benefit of doubt be with the competitor?

Clearly Ben was very distracted by the media boat - to the extent that he was BFD in the next race. I've never seen him get an OCS (ever).

10/12/2011 19:49:02
Really? Atlanta 96 maybe....

11/12/2011 08:18:43
Robert Harris
This is the substance of what I posted on the Telegraph website yesterday.

Unlike almost all other sports events major sailing regattas are not held on tightly defined race tracks. There are no fences or other barriers to prevent TV launches or spectator boats getting in the way of the racing unless the organisers take firm control to prevent it happening.

Ben Ainslie is the world's best sailor and will inevitably attract the most intrusive media attention. It should be absolutely essential during sailing World Championships and the Olympics that the organisers protect Ainslie and his rivals from the sort of interference that pretty obviously happened off Fremantle. If they failed to do that then Ben Ainslie should be reinstated.

B****r the TV people, don't they have superb stabilised long lenses?

11/12/2011 15:05:00
Barry Dunning
The media and press boats are a problem.They have a duty not to interfere with the competitors and the racing. Ben's reaction was a little extreme but quite understandable in the circumstances. Did the International Jury over react. Dont know as the hearing was closed and the facts found were not available. No doubt the story will unfold in the next few days. Well done Giles Scott and Ed Wright.
Brits first and third. Not bad. Ben will be fired up for 2012 for sure. As one of the course marshalls at Weymouth, I will have to make sure the media boats keep well clear.

11/12/2011 17:42:32
Jim C
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World ChampionshipsPerth, Australia
Following yesterday's incident involving Ben Ainslie (GBR), the International Jury have issued the following official communication.

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

11/12/2011 17:46:10
Jim C
One of the problems, it seems to me, is that a socking great RIB travelling at Finn speed is going to be travelling at full displacement and leaving a huge hole in the water. I've pitchpoled in such a wake (not in a Merlin, obviously).

I understand that the Eighteens have or have had a converted Tornado cat as a photography platform. That would seem much more appropriate to be on the racecourse than a big RIB. I suppose its too late to develop something on those lines for Weymouth?

12/12/2011 09:30:10
old fart
Perhaps Nurse should give all concerned a jolly good spanking and send them to bed without any supper

12/12/2011 10:12:04
I wonder what Usain Bolt would do if he were similarly interfered with in a World Championship race?

12/12/2011 11:44:42
Derik Palmer
It's the Race Committee who authorise the Press to be on the water in the course area.  Therefore they should have exercised some control ove the press boat's antics - there must have been some radio communication facilities.  Their failure to ensure the press kept out of the way of ALL competitors makes them just as culpable as Ben to my mind.  Since they had the luxury of standing back and observing, possibly more so.

12/12/2011 13:17:31
Barry Dunning
Theres more to it!!

Ben Ainslie, who was positioned to gain his sixth world championship, was
dropped out of contention. However, more could come. Because the penalty
came under 69.1, a report automatically goes to the sailor's national
authority and the International Sailing Federation which can take further

A sequence of photos from the incident are posted online:

Ben Ainslie and British team officials have made statements that the
incident has been overblown and the penalty was excessive:

If additional punishment was to be considered, there are a couple factors
that may complicate the process. Previous to the Worlds, Ben Ainslie had
been selected to be Britain's representative in the Men's One Person Dinghy
Heavy (Finn) at the 2012 Olympic Games. If Ainslie were to add to his medal
collection of three golds and one silver at the 2012 Games, it would make
him the most decorated sailing athlete of all time. Additionally, the
International Sailing Federation's Secretary General is Jerome Pels,
Ainslie's brother-in-law.

12/12/2011 14:30:33
Barry Dunning
Does anyone know the nationality of the rib driver and camara crew and what penalty did they suffer for interfering with the racing?

12/12/2011 16:56:23
Derik Palmer
Actual nationalities - no, I don't think so.  But I'm sorry to say that the TV crew were operating for Sunset+Vine, a UK company who produce most of the independent TV sports coverage in this country and sell a lot overseas.

Sunset+Vine is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tinopolis plc, also a UK entity. The also own Daybreak TV and Mentorn Productions.

12/12/2011 17:35:38
Stud Muffin
Andrew Preece (APP) and Richard Simmons are not going to be on Ben's Xmas card list. 

I suspect there'll be a fair bit of humble pie at the APP Xmas party.

Cipollini has the right idea here...
12/12/2011 18:17:20
Sep Blatter
"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." 

So when the tit in front of me on the motorway is hindering me from getting to my destination, I can 'ruff him up' at the service station as long as I say sorry afterwards?

Sport at the top end is as bent as it gets people.

13/12/2011 09:27:34
Barry Dunning
Words from Scuttlebutt
COMMENT: In regard to the Ben Ainslie incident at the 2011 ISAF Sailing
World Championship, the media boat involved was hired by ISAF as the
official host broadcaster to videotape the racing. Additionally, the
Sailing Instructions changed RRS 62 (Redress) such that actions by media
boats and helicopters were not grounds for requesting redress. I am going
to assume that Ben knew he could not file for redress. While Ben's actions
were clearly in error, it is asking a lot of a highly vested sailor to
accept being hindered for broadcast purposes as part of ISAF's media
objective. - Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

13/12/2011 12:33:09
I believe there is a previouse incident. A Finn sailor broke another Finn sailors fingers. He hit them with a paddle when the other sailor put them in his boat on the start line.
I beleive he won the protest.

Ben should have protested the race committe and had the race thrown out.

13/12/2011 12:37:00
Barry Dunning
That is the famous 'Pym the Paddle' incident in the Finn class. Patrick Pym a national 12 sailor from Hamble was training for the Olympic spot in 1972.  No, he did not win the protest. He was banned from the regatta.

13/12/2011 13:43:01
Don't recall "Pym the Paddle" breaking fingers. I thought he hit the other boat with his paddle, a Dutch boat if I remember.

13/12/2011 14:07:12
David henshall
No, I'm pretty sure that Barry had it right. It was a Belgian sailor, who was hauling himself forwards along Patrick's gunwale whilst the boat were rafted up before the start. Certainly he scored a direct hit on the hand with his paddle and got lobbed from the event for his sins. This was of course pre Rule 69....


13/12/2011 14:58:23
Barry Dunning
To b fair, Patrick had warned the other sailor in a previous start that if he used his hands to pull himself forward 'I'll hit u wiv my paddle'. He did it again and Partick, true to his word, 'hit im wiv his paddle' Didn't go down well with the jury. From that day forward Patrick was known as 'Pym the Paddle.'
Makes Ben seem a 'right gentleman'.

13/12/2011 17:14:32
Patrick together with Mike Jackson for a seperate "Red Mist" moment in the National 12 class were both put off the water in 1968 for a period that was carefully set not to exclude Patrick from the 1968 Olympics. There have been several other occasions since mainly in the USA, I think, where sailors have been "Warned Off" for a period.

14/12/2011 18:47:57
Perth News
Perth 2011:Dolphins on Race course in Perth.Wed 14th
Flipper and and a few friends swam over from Miami today in a show of solidarity for Finn sailor Ben Ainslie. Interviewed today Flipper exclaimed'I sympathise with Ben, I could never get that stupid park ranger Chuck in his boat to understand me week in week out" said Flipper.
'My old mate Skippy has told me his lot weren't any better either.
Poor Ben. Australians and in a boat, he didn't stand a chance!

14/12/2011 19:43:23
Hopefully Ben will be out of jail in time for the big O show! When are visiting days anyways? Did anybody hear about the lawsuit(s)? PS My 6th great grandfather was the mayor of Liverpool 1827. T. Porter

15/12/2011 08:54:03
Ozren Tosic
Ben also, in the last race, continued sailing after he was BFD-ed. That is certainly non-discardable penalty.

15/12/2011 09:13:40
Ozren Tosic
Also, if it was not Ben but any other sailor, there would be no doubt as to RYA's expected decision: suspension for a substantial period.

15/12/2011 10:19:33
Looking at Athletics, and the appeal before the Court of Arbitration in Sport that the banning of accepted guilty "drug cheats" from the Olympics goes against World Drug Enforcement policy (eg Dwayne Chambers etc) because it is a "double punishment", how can further punishment of Big Ben by the RYA be correct?

15/12/2011 10:36:44
Ozren Tosic
@ .. 
I agree in principle but than we have to change the rules (RRS) unless we accept that rules are applied differentially, depending on someone's celebrity star status

15/12/2011 12:24:14
Barry Dunning
Although Bens actions after the race were unacceptable and warrented the two race dsq. the Jury gave, the real culprits are the press boat and its occupants. Perhaps they should lose their accreditation for the Olympics in 2012. Ben, to date has been a fine ambassador for GBR sailing. I am sure the RYA will take this into account if a report is filed.

15/12/2011 12:46:26
Ed 3154
Maybe Ben's "celebrity" was one of the reasons that the press boat was in such close proximity to the racing, so maybe the rules do need to be applied differently becuase your circumstances are different?

I think the punishment was justified and sufficient (effectively stripping him of a world title).

Also, I agree with the comment on the Sailing Anarchy front page that, even if JP Morgan may not like seeing Ben get angry, I think it verges on entertaining, and as one of the sports biggest stars, it is refreshing to see the human(/animal) side of Ben, who can sometimes appear managed and shy in the media.

15/12/2011 13:07:53
Robert Harris
In 1980 I was protested for bad behaviour under what I think was then rule 72, a very rare happening. It was during the last race of a Merlin Rocket open meeting which I had to win to take the meeting for the 2nd year running. I swore violently at my main opponent when I thought he should have given me water at a buoy but didn't. He won the race and the meeting and protested me. 

It was an extremely stressful situation because I think I knew what the penalty could be. To make matters worse I was chairman of the MROA at the time so it was extremely embarrassing for all concerned except perhaps the protester. The club's Commodore decided to chair the protest and confirmed that they could refer me to the RYA, instead they admonished me with a severe warning about my future behaviour.

I've always accepted that my opponent was right to protest me.

15/12/2011 13:11:04
Robert Harris
They probably disqualified me as well but I can't remember

15/12/2011 17:35:53
Robert Harris
I've just heard on Radio 4 news that a warship will stationed in Weymouth Bay during the Olympics. That should do the trick!

19/12/2011 16:53:58
So, Australia took the gold medal in the Laser, 49er, 470 men at Perth. Funny how the Australian ISAF media boat didn't interfere with them when they were racing. How come the media boat didn't finish second in those classes as well?

19/12/2011 23:05:50
David henshall
well,I suppose that is one way of looking at it! But just for the record, here is another: For the previous two seasons I was on one of those pesky media boats when I was covering the Sailing World Cup. I spent quite a bit of time watching the Aussie 470s  and they were simply...class!

Then on to Italy - if you thought the media boats in Perth intrusive, you should have seen them at the 49er Worlds on Garda. Some of the positioning that was indulged in by the RiB drivers was just shockingly bad: I watched as Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes were capsized by the wash from one boat when well positioned! Don't recall any fireworks - which is what the journalists there were on the watch for! However, most of the time the scribes and photographer were busy watching Nathan Outtridge who was...simply class.

Then it was back to happy Hayling, Laser Worlds and a job with the race team - okay, if you can't get a good viewpoint from the Committee Boat then where can you..... but with the advantage of being able to get the best view in the house, one can but say that the way Tom Slingsby took the World Championships - across a wide range of testing weather conditions was once again, simply class.

So.... 3 world class teams, 3 world champions: Funny this - the same teams were there at Weymouth.

So I'm not sure what '..' is suggesting.... but there is one other consideration that has maybe slipped his mind. Having a top sailor who 'looses the plot', as a leading national icon, should not just be an excuse to make critical comments about other sailors, media boats or any other external causes. Have you considered that if you look back at recent event history, that there might have been other instances of a not dissimilar nature - without a media boat causing a problem!


20/12/2011 00:00:13
And David,  let us not forget the RO (you) and DRO (me!) that lost it with coach boats at an event in Devon.....  We may not have boarded the boats but I was tempted!  Is a windsurfer a boat? Not sure I have the balance to board one of them!


20/12/2011 08:31:47
David henshall
Au contraire Jon: Like you, I seriously wanted to crack some heads together hard (the incident in question was such a breach of safety  - regarding windsurfers who were 'in' the water rather than on their board - and some rib drivers that I did loose my temper) and yes, I will admit to  some serious cursing at the boats...and in their own language too! But there is a big difference:

Did we 'tonk them' - as they so richly deserved? NO

Instead, I contacted the Organising Authority with a simple choice - clear the Coach Boats from the Race Course and get them ashore...or no more racing. It sounds a high handed action but the breaches of safety were so severe that the Race Committee - of which you were a part, felt that racing could not be allowed to continue until the offending boats had been removed. It should be noted that the guilty parties were French - and I had a French IJ on the Committee Boat and he concurred with the decisions we took.

So, this is right at the heart of the problem. Something happens and you might well shout and curse - stamp feet even....but physical confrontation is way way off the other side of a dividing line. Cross that.... and you've little of a way back.....


20/12/2011 10:57:47
Dave Croft
Over the past couple of years my daughter has been fortunate to be selected to represent GB at Cadet Worlds. I did some support boat duty on several occasions and we were briefed that any support boats that were seen on the race course or close to any competitor after the 4 minute would be reported to the race committee. If this happened the race committee had the power to disqualify the entire team associated with an offending boat. Every rib had to carry identifcation. Perhaps organisers could learn a thing or two from the junior classes!

20/12/2011 11:28:37
Barry Dunning
Out of interest, I understand the guy driving the media boat was a Brit and so were the camara crew!

20/12/2011 13:47:51
Stud Muffin
I don't think there was anything malicious in what happened just over enthusiasm by the  media to get the shot.

Ben is a ruthless competitor but widely reported as a gent of the water.

I wonder if there wasn't a bit of backchat that sparked Ben off.

1 - It was a Brit on Brit thing
2 - APP want to retain the Weymouth gig
3 - RYA want Ben to retain the Weymouth gig

I expect there was plea bargain - Ben still can get his 6th Gold Cup at home in Falmouth in May.

Everyone's happy - job's a good 'un

PS - I note the distinct lack of video from 3rd parties and the Chopper.

22/12/2011 09:37:57
Richard Stevens
The debate goes on.

I have driven media boats both photography and TV, for over 5 years now trying hard to keep out of the way, but battled with the demands of the camera operator/commentator. I have also received the wrathe of a Race Officer when my boat [used the previous week as Race committee boat] was incorrectly identified as the finishing boat!

I also have been very frustrated with coach boats interfering, when acting as a Race officer. I am now of the opinion that strong wording verbal and written in advance, to all who may be wanting to be near the competitors whilst racing is the answer, and carry out what is said/written.

For the Olympics I will police, like Barry; and the briefing to the Media boats at the test event was very strong and seemed to work well, threatening not just banning from the event but also for the Olympics ; Telephoto lenses and digital photography enable excellent shots to be taken from a much greater distance, and the further away all the media boats are, the better chance of a clear shot.

Ben is an excellent ambassador for both the sport and GB but performs better after the racing is over.

If people intrude into my concentration during the last minute to a start, they'll get a snarl and short shrift to.

22/12/2011 10:07:49
David Child
Some pertinant points no doubt, to put it into perspective, watch the BBC4 programme "Penlee LIfeboat" on catch up or I player.


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