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Spanish Olympic hero charged with Misconduct

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 6 Aug 2018 06:01 PDT 7 August 2018
Iker Martinez and Olga Maslivets (ESP) sailing their Nacra 17 in Aarhus Sailing Week - the test event before the Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus © Jesus Renedo

Double Olympic medalist and Volvo Ocean Race skipper, Iker Martinez (Spain) has appeared before the International Jury at the Hempel Sailing World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

Martinez was set down to be sailing in the Mixed crew foiling Nacra 17 catamaran. However his name has been dropped from the entry list and he did not compete in the first day of racing yesterday (Sunday). His Nacra 17 is at the hotel where the Spanish team are staying.

At the Hearing, Martinez tried to gain more time to prepare his response to the allegations - wanting a week to ten days to do so - beyond the end of the regatta. He got just two days to read the papers, engage and instruct a lawyer and acquaint himself with the rules.

The RRS 69.2 notice is devoid of detail on the incident - but earlier protests heard by the International Jury reveal that this charge is the result of a measurement discrepancy in the dagger board case and its adjustment, which the Int Jury believe was a deliberate modification in the one-design Nacra 17 class. The modification is claimed to improve light airs foiling performance.

The case can be read here

The Misconduct charge is laid under Regulation 35.4.4(c) by the Event Disciplinary Investigating Officer (EDIO) - which is about as serious as you can get in the sport.

The notes from the Hearing can be seen by clicking here

The following day Iker Martinez applied to have his case re-opened and presented some new evidence which can be read here.

However the International Jury dismissed each of his three claims.

Martinez requested that he be given comparative data and measurements from other boats in the class, however the EDIO said he was not calling these in his evidence and permission was refused.

At the European Championships which concluded two weeks ago in Poland, Martinez finished 21st overall. He retired from Race 3, was scored DNF in Races 10 and 11, after two unrelated racing mishaps, the second of which damaged the bowsprit. He scored Did Not Competes in the last three races of the regatta.

In the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race Martinez was given a two-point penalty by the International Jury for altering the Volvo 65 MAPFRE at sea after running into severe weather conditions. It was claimed as skipper he hadn't received permission to make the repair. Martinez took the view that the repair was urgent and essential and while he had tried to get permission had not had a response and proceeded anyway.

Hearings under Rule 69 Misconduct have proved very expensive for sailors, with a Volvo Ocean Race skipper having to spend USD40,000 to defend a case which was quickly dismissed after so-called "victim" supported her skipper's account of the incident. The Hearing was held at the conclusion of Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race in Cape Town.

The Aarhus Rule 69 Hearing is the second setback for the Spanish Olympic team in Aarhus. Before the Olympic Qualifying Regatta had started they appeared before the International Jury facing a complaint that they had crossed into a ferry lane during practice, forcing the ferry to slow and alter course. The team was barred from competing in the first race of the regatta and their coach was banned from going on the water for the first four days of the regatta. In itself the penalty appears modest, however the top eight countries from the 49er fleet in Aarhus qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Dropping out of the top eight over what is a minor rules infringement can prove extremely costly for funding and Olympic preparation over the final two years.

Currently the top Spanish 49er crew lies in 10th country position on the leaderboard.

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