|All three Spanish 49er teams are in crisis mode as they have each been disqualified from the first race of the Championship.
While training in afternoon on August 2nd, the three boats were lined up doing some speed testing and sailed through the local ferry channel. The ferry is a fast catamaran, and they spotted it at a distance. They attempted to sail out of it’s way, but as it approached at speed they ultimately were in it’s way, and it was required to alter course and slow significantly closing to about a 1 mile distance from the skiffs.
The maritime infraction was reported to the Organizing Authority, who decide to protest the three teams. After a lengthy hearing, each of the three teams has been disqualified from the first race. Additionally, their coach has been barred from the water for 4 days, which includes the first two days of racing.
2015 World Championship Bronze medalists, Federico Alonso, was distraught at the decision. “Clearly we made a mistake, but the penalty seems awfully severe for an unintentional breech before racing has even begun.”
The penalty has effected two major contenders for this championship. The Alonso brothers, as mentioned above were penalized, as was Diego Botin and Iago Marra who won the European Championship only 3 weeks ago. The third boat was their young team mates Luis Arriola and Jorge Roman.
While the individual disqualifications are tough, it’s almost more impactful that it happened to include all of the Spanish entries. Since it is the top 8 nations at the championship that win Olympic berths, this is a major blow to a nation hoping to be free and clear for Tokyo in this super competitive fleet.
An appeal to the decision was raised but rejected. Ultimately if the teams sail strong qualifying series the DSQ score can be dropped, but the pressure is certainly on!