Madison 2007: Did the U-37 jump the gun on Heat 2B? Watch the video and decide for yourself
We're really not trying to start a controversy here. But debating things is sometimes half the fun in sports, isn't it? The U-37's team contends they didn't jump the gun on Heat 1-B in Madison. But race officials disagreed, assessing a penalty that left driver Jean Theoret one lap behind the other boats on the course. Theoret finished last in the heat.
It was too bad for them. They had beat everybody to the start/finish line and appeared to nail the start. The race announcers called it a clean start from their vantage point.
Here's the first video of the start of the heat so you can judge for yourself. Mike Fetscher edited the video and set the clock on the video just like he has for every heat race this year... by the announcer who also gives the Pit and P.A. countdowns. It's timed up at the beginning. But as the race countdown is called as the drivers line up heading towards the start of the race, the count the announcer's giving is slightly off from the clock we set at the 5 minute mark.
When the level of competition is as high as it is, drivers are looking to nail the start and grab the lead going into turn one. Timing is critical. So even a fraction of a second can make a difference.
It's hard to tell from the video whether the U-37 hit the line too soon. From the angle, there's no way to tell conclusively either way. We also can't tell you if the actual countdown is off or not. But if the announced countdown is off, even by less than a second, it could cause the driver to jump the gun... depends on which countdown you trust and which ones the officials keep.
The race officials did review the start and concluded the U-37 jumped by a split second. Take a look at the video above and make up your own mind.