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Media Boat Impedes Ainslie in World Championship

Sunday 11 December 2011
Our thoughts are with one of Britain's most successful Olympians and sailors after the frustration of a media boat impeding his final race in the ISAF world championships became too much for him.

Ainsley was comfortably in first place in the championship and second place in the race when a media boat cut between his boat and Postma's. This pushed Postma's boat along on their wake and almost swamped Ainsley's boat. This angered Ben who boarded the media boat for an argument.

Ainslie is known to be a great ambassador for the sport and is a real gentleman but we can understand his frustration when he has put so much time and money into preparing to win his 10th world championship, only to be blocked by a media boat. Media boats on the course often get too close to the fleet (especially those in the lead) and cause all kinds of disruption to the sailors (much of which they may be oblivious too) such as their wake, their wind shadow and the possibility of blocking boats if they want to put in a 90 degree tack. It is hard to imagine the media being allowed on the pitch in other sports (can you imagine the chaos if TV crews and photographers were allowed to be on the football pitch in the football World Cup?).

The unfortunate thing for Ainslie is that although his frustration may be warranted, swimming to the media boat for an angry exchange with the crew was not. The ISAF committee decided to disqualify him from the final two races under rule 69, (allegations of gross misconduct). Ben and the TV crew have both apologised for the incident. Ben also showed extreme humility by tweeting congratulations to the eventual winner: "Congrats to Giles Scott, new Finn World Champion".

At least in the Olympics the authorities have better control over the media. Here's hoping Ben can get his fourth Olympic gold in a row at Weymouth next year and that we can all see it in glorious video thanks to the media.