Ben Ainslie in dispute with television boat
Ben Ainslie had a 'dispute' with a television boat today as he crossed the line in today's second last race on the Finn course at the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.
In that race Ainslie was approaching the finish line when his boat was swamped by the wake from a television boat causing his Finn to flounder. Meanwhile race leader, the Netherland's Pieter-Jan Postma, was able to ride to the line on the television boat's wake.
Upon crossing the line, Ainslie swung his boat into the wind, jumped into the water, swam over to the television boat and having hauled himself on board, was seen in angry confrontation with the crew before diving back into the water and swimming back to his boat.
During the course of the race Ben felt the TV boat impeded his progress on several occasions and had frequently shouted out to inform them. Clearly at the end of the race he had lost his temper. The incident took place in front of spectators close by in the grandstand, who watched in astonishment as the British sailor abandoned his boat immediately after crossing the line to make his protest.
This evening in Perth, Ainslie is involved in a protest hearing over the incident.
Ainslie explained what happened: “On the final downwind leg of the race, I was hindered by a media boat, the actions of which I felt were seriously impeding my progress in the race.
“Clearly with it being a World Championship, emotions are running high and in the heat of the moment after the race I boarded the media boat to make my views known to the crew. I realise this was an inappropriate course of action and have already apologised to those concerned.”
Ainslie has since apologised for the incident and the driver of the offending television boat has also apologised. The race organisers have referred it to the jury who will hear a rule 69 (allegations of gross misconduct) hearing. Both sides have admitted their was fault on their part in what they did. Ben admits he was in the wrong, but the boat driver has admitted he was in the wrong too.
Unfortunately for Ben the whole incident was captured by Danish photographer Mick Anderson. These images can be seen here
UPDATE - Ben Ainslie has since been disqualified from the last two races today, putting him out of medal contention.