In a dramatic development last night, fifteen sailors were disqualified from the first race, including the entire Singaporean and Indonesian fleets.
There was high drama at Training Ship Jawahar, last evening at the conclusion of the first 2 races of the Individual Championship.
The crux of the issue was that 15 boats had left the jetty before the cautionary flag DELTA had been hoisted. This is a cautionary flag signal that is raised when the race officer feels that adequate safety support is available on the water and that the weather conditions are safe for the fleet to launch.
When word spread through the fleet about this infraction of the rules the Indonesian team manager tried to rectify matters for his team by physically towing their boats at high speed, back to the jetty for re-launch! However this did not amount to a rectification of the rule infringement as per the Sailing Instructions and after some deliberation the International Jury took the decision to disqualify all 15 boats that had broken this rule.
This mass disqualification drastically affected the front end of the fleet as both the Malaysian and Singapore teams who have dominated proceedings so far saw almost all their sailors disqualified.
The dejected faces of the young sailors who had sailed so hard and so well only to see a top 10 finish turn to a DSQ, was heartbreaking to watch but then as a member of the Organising Committee pointed out "This is an international championship, not a club race and competitors and coaches at this level are expected to know the rules and follow them to the letter."
Hard on children? Better that they learn now than at some future Olympics - and that rules are there for a reason and to be respected.
Hopefully this experience, will serve to make the whole fleet more aware of rule infringements and if it does, it would have served a very positive purpose. Strict adherence to the rules is imperative in a sport like sailing where safety is an issue and especially here were children are out at sea alone, in a large fleet.
However, the leader after two races remains reigning Asian champion Alvin YEOW JIAN of Malaysia.