break for ben

break for ben

The Royal Yachting Association’s disciplinary tribunal didn’t take long to pronounce Ben Ainslie free from further action, finding that the Perth jury’s disqualifying of the Finn superstar from World Championship contention was enough of a sanction. "Having considered all the evidence put before it, the tribunal was satisfied that it would not be appropriate to impose a penalty over and above that imposed by the International Jury at the event.” Official release is here.

Our sources in the UK tell us that the decision was not nearly as easy as it seemed, with at least one tribunal member wanting to see Ben suffer some measure of discipline – possibly a ban that would keep him out of next month’s Palma pre-Olympic regatta – to emphasize the importance of the actions of a role model like Ainslie to thousands of junior sailors who look up to him.

Whether or not Ben should have received an additional penalty (and he could still face more discipline should ISAF or Yachting Australia decide to pursue it), it helped Ben to have a convenient scapegoat in the photographer and media boat. With the Olympics around the corner, much of the yachting world has joined in the general distaste for media boat actions of late, the RYA using the Ainslie hearing as a bit of a soapbox to advise event staff to rein in their RIBs. “The Tribunal…recognised that there was an apparent lack of active management of media boats at this and previous events leading to repeated infringements of the provisions of the event media boat guidelines.”

Score one for Ainslie, and score a lesson to event organizers on training and supervising their media boat drivers.