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Sailing Worlds: Three Spanish 49ers disqualified before racing starts

by 49er.org 4 Aug 2018 01:36 PDT 4 August 2018
49er teams out training in Aarhus, Denmark ahead of the Hempel Sailing World Championships - Aarhus, Denmark © Sailing Energy

All three Spanish 49er teams are in crisis mode as they have each been disqualified from the first race of the 2018 World Championship and first 2020 Olympic Qualifier.

While training in afternoon yesterday, the three boats were lined up doing some speed testing and sailed through the local ferry channel. The ferry is a fast catamaran, and the crews spotted it at a distance. The 49ers attempted to sail out of the ferry's way, but as it approached at speed they ultimately were on a collision course, and the ferry was required to alter course and slow significantly.

The maritime infraction was reported to the Organizing Authority, who decided 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 affected 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 is more significant that it happened to include all of the Spanish entries. Since the top eight nations at the championship win Olympic berths, this is a major blow to a nation hoping to qualify for Tokyo in this super competitive fleet.

An appeal to the decision has been filed, and ultimately if the teams sail strong qualifying series the DSQ score can be dropped, but the pressure is certainly on!

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