New speed enforcements could see Olympic and speed sailors fined or even banned 1/4/06

In an effort to protect the coastline and rivers of this country from erosion, and prevent marine accidents, a new ruling has been ‘pushed through the back door’ to allow special waterproof marine techno speed cameras to be installed on some rivers and coastal areas around the UK which could see yachtsmen face huge speeding penalties and even banned from sailing.

Under this new law, an 8kt speed limit will be enforced and anyone recorded speeding above this limit will be fined a fixed £80 penalty. Following along similar lines to road traffic speed control, four offences means an instant ban from sailing for one year.

Although Weymouth Harbour is the first coastal area to be targeted with the installation of speed cameras within the next two months, plans are afoot to carry out similar speeding systems at other high-risk areas. Naturally this is a major concern for the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy that not only run Weymouth Speed Week but will be the host venue for the 2012 Olympic Games.

This will create a major threat to the Games and Weymouth Speed Week because according to Herr Langsam – Chairman of the German-based Marine Speed Unit who have been advising and backing the enforcement – there is no special dispensation planned for major events. Commenting Langsam said: “Our prime concern is to protect our environment. Although we understand the new laws will dramatically affect the running of sporting events, erosion around our coasts is a major concern and our priority.”

As things stand at the moment Olympic sailors could potentially be fined and even banned from sailing after just one race as they notch up speeding fines on each leg of the course. Weymouth Speed Week competitors will, for sure, be instantly banned after four speed runs as they notch up speeds in excess of 30kts!

We were unable to catch up with the British Marine Division for comment but it seems the Spanish marine authority (Marine Vela) have also been trying to implement a similar method of speed control. To find out the Spanish sailing authority’s view we managed to catch up with S. D. Gonzalez – chairman of España Vela Club. Speaking this morning (1 April) from Valencia, Gonzalez said: “We whole-heartedly oppose the idea. They cannot take away our freedom to speed. The whole thing’s getting out of control!”

According to Langsam, there are definitely no plans to lift the law in Weymouth Harbour but the Marine Division may consider a more suitable venue for the Olympics and Speed Week that has less erosion threat.