British Sonar team is dealt four point penalty for onshore infringement and drops from medal position with final race to go

If this week of light and shifty conditions afloat hadn’t been difficult enough for the British Sonar team, the biggest blow to their Paralympic hopes came last night as the jury dealt the team a four point penalty for a rule infringement ashore. Having clawed their way back to Bronze and to within one point of Silver going into the final day, the British team led by John Robertson now finds itself back in 6th position.

With the Norwegians and French now ahead of the Brits and with the Dutch team with a guaranteed Gold, Silver is still possible for Robertson’s team but today’s weather could add the final crushing blow. With very light winds forecast for the day the possibility of the final race being abandoned is a real one and could leave the British team out of the medals despite having come ashore last night in a Bronze position.

For an excerpt of the protest see bottom of story.

Official statement relating to Paralympics GB Sailing Sonar class

The Sonar crew received a penalty yesterday for an off the water situation. The full details of the relevant decision can be found on the ISAF website.

Stephen Park, Paralympics GB Sailing team leader has this morning said: “Wednesday (5 September) was a day of highs and lows for the ParalympicsGB sailors. We successfully secured medals in the 2.4mR and SKUD classes with a day to spare, and fought back into the medal positions heading into the final day in the Sonar class.

“It was therefore extremely unfortunate that, due to a minor off-the-water incident not involving the sailors themselves, the GB Sonar crew found themselves handed a discretionary penalty by the International Jury of four points added to their score overnight, which has affected the overall positions going into the final race and had a significant impact on their medal prospects in an incredibly tight fleet.

“The team bosun, Simon Hiscocks, himself a double Olympic medallist, was authorised to lift the GB Sonar out of the water to inspect and repair some minor damage following racing on Tuesday. Towards the end of the repair, the measurer requested for the bosun not to clean the port side of the keel. The bosun believed this to be a requirement of the job he had been authorised by the measurer to perform, and continued, prompting the measurer to file a report to the International Jury.

“The Jury determined that the bosun, through his actions of failing to obey a member of the race committee, had breached a Sailing Instruction and subsequently imposed a 30 per cent discretionary penalty on the GB Sonar team – which equated to four points. The GB team management strongly contested this penalty, believing the Jury did not follow correct procedures in raising the SI breach, that the GB Sonar crew should and could not be held responsible for the actions of the bosun in this instance, and that the four-point penalty imposed was grossly disproportionate to the deemed transgression – particularly as it was agreed by all parties that there was no performance advantage gained by the GB Sonar team through the actions of the bosun.

“The GB team is hugely disappointed that the medals at a Paralympic Sailing event could be determined in this manner for such a minor off-the-water transgression and therefore we will continue to investigate what options are available to rectify this situation to try to ensure the medals at these Paralympic Games are determined by the talents of the athletes on the water.”

Simon Hiscocks, the GB team bosun said: “I fully regret that my actions have led to this situation and apologise again to the Measurer for any perceived disrespect shown while I was completing the repair on the Sonar. I believe the task I was undertaking was part of the authorised repair, but clearly misunderstood the instructions of the Measurer and in hindsight appreciate that my actions were inappropriate and deeply regret the impact it has had thus far on the Sonar crew.”

PROTEST EXCERPT – As published on ISAF web site

Facts found:
GBR asked for the measurer’s permission to haul the Sonar to effect repairs to perceived damage to the bottom of the keel. GBR complied with the instructions at the time of haul-out as the measurer inspected the keel. The measurer provided consent for GBR to effect repairs to the bottom of the keel, as well as to three marks on the starboard side. The crew was present for the inspection and instructed their bosun to make the repairs. Once the bosun completed the repairs he began to wipe the whole keel including the port side. The measurer made 3 requests for the bosun to stop wiping the keel, but he kept wiping. After second request to stop, the measurer explained that he might have to make a report if he did not stop. The bosun replied, “go ahead and make your report” and continued wiping. After the third request, the bosun explaining that he had to do his job and he continued wiping until he finished the job. The measurer’s opinion is that there was no performance advantage gained by wiping the keel.

GBR complied with the application procedure to effect the repair under EIR 3. GBR did not effect repairs beyond those permitted by the measurer under EIR 3.3. The bosun failed to comply with the reasonable request by the measurer to stop wiping other areas of the keel, in breach of SI 3. The breach was deliberate. Mitigating circumstances are that GBR does not dispute any aspect of the measurer’s report, and acknowledges that the bosun made an error of judgement.

Rule(s) applicable:
SI 3, EIR 3.1, RRS 64,1(d)

The jury’s discretionary scoring penalty to GBR is 30% of boats, i.e. 4 points in race 7, the race closest in time to the incident