Ainslie outburst prompts need for regulation

Richard Langdon /
In Fremantle, Andy Robertson speaks to RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park about 'Bengate' and its repercussions
To borrow the most over used cliché in offshore and ocean racing, the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships have been a marathon not a sprint. No doubt when we look back, after the excesses of Christmas, and it will feel like it flew by, but time has definitely dragged through the second week. It is hard not to conclude that Olympic classes sailing is in a bit of a mess. Ben’s Bather’s Bay TV boat rage, and before that ‘shark watch’, may have woken up the media around the world to this global sailing showcase, but in many, many respects the regatta (recognition where its due to the sailing correspondent of The Australian who managed to bind both stories into one moment of high drama ‘The 34 year old leapt out of his Finn into Bather’s Bay not far from where a great white shark was sighted on Tuesday). But however exciting and competitive the racing has been it has served to highlight glaring problems. Stephen Park, RYA’s Olympic Manager, hits the nail on the head when he says (Olympic) sailing is ‘fumbling its way into making the sport more appealing for television’. Ainslie’s case has been an incident waiting to happen. What is desperately unfortunate is that it cost Ben a world title and no one beyond Ainslie himself so far has shouldered any responsibility. It is incredible enough that the need to present a cut and dried, first past the post wins, package for TV means that medal races created a rule that forego’s the athlete’s claim to redress, but at these World Championships that rule has been extended to include all races, not just medal races: 15.2. Actions by official boats or helicopters shall not be grounds for requesting redress by a boat. This changes RRS 62. This is a belt and braces