Stephen Parks, ParalympicsGB 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.”