Highest drama at the Worlds thus far, with the US and NZ Men's Four involved in a dead heat, an application of FISA Rule 75, a protest and a 5:15pm match race for all the marbles.
In the first semi of the Men's Four, the US was running second to the Dutch, and just ahead of the Dutch and NZ crews coming into the last 300 meters or so; the Kiwis put on a tremendous push to close water on the US, with both crews revving it to the line and crossing at exactly the same time--both the live TV and slow mo replay showed no difference between the crews, and even when the FISA officials subjected the digital finish photo to a few rounds of enlargement, the crews stayed dead even at any magnification. See the official photo here.
FISA then invoked rarely-used Rule 75, with the full text of the rule below:
Rule 75 - Dead-Heats
When the order of finish between two or more crews cannot be determined, then the result is declared a dead heat between the crews involved. If there is a dead-heat, the following procedure shall operate:
- In a heat, a repêchage or a semi-final if a dead-heat occurs between crews and if only one of the crews progresses into the next round, then there must be a re-row over the full course between the crews involved. The re-row must take place on the same day as the dead-heat and not less than two hours after the race in which the dead-heat occurred. If all crews involved in the dead-heat progress anyway into the next round, there will be no re-row and their relative positions in the next round shall be decided by lot.
- In a final, if a dead-heat occurs between crews, then they shall be given equal placing in the final order and the next placing(s) shall be left vacant. If the tied placing is for a medal position then the Organising Committee shall provide additional medals.
With regards to precedent, the clearest comparision seems to be with the situation that occured at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where the US and Norway M2x crews dead-heated in the semi and subsequently both raced in a seven-boat A-Final.
In any event, the US and NZ coaches and team managers convened in a quick scrum outside the FISA trailer, with both teams filing protests to avoid the rerow and get both crews into a seven boat final on Saturday. Both of these protests were denied by FISA. In addition, the US filed a protest to allow a review of the video of the race, with a US team manager present, which was allowed, and also did not produce any conclusive evidence of a difference between the crews.
As I understand it, the difference in FISA's interpretation of Rule 75 between this situation and the one in Athens is that, in Athens, there was a protest filed against a posted order of finish, which was then reviewed, and a dead heat declared, allowing both the US and Norway to race in a seven boat final. In this case, because there was never a question of order of finish, for FISA the application of Rule 75 was academic, although judging by the reactions of those close to the NZ and US teams that row2k talked to, both sides were disappointed by the ruling and had hoped that the efforts of both crews would have been rewarded by placing both in saturday's A-Final.
More to come today.