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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 20:14 GMT
Fury at 'favouritism' for Fogle
Ben Fogle James Cracknell
Ben Fogle and James Cracknell: Time penalty
Devon organisers of a trans-Atlantic rowing race are at the centre of a row over who won.

Newton Abbot-based Woodvale Events have been accused of "pandering to celebrity".

Some rowers believe race bosses considered altering the rules to hand celebrity pair James Cracknell and Ben Fogle first place.

Olympian Cracknell and TV presenter Fogle were the first double-crewed boat to finish in Antigua last week.

We are incandescent about this pandering to celebrity for the sake of the good PR of the race
Clint Evans
But they face an undisclosed time penalty after breaking into the emergency fresh water ballast in their boat.

The occupants of second-placed boat, Team C2, who arrived just over a day later but did not use any emergency water, said race rules should hand them first place.

Rower Clint Evans said: "We are incandescent about this pandering to celebrity for the sake of the good PR of the race.

"As a competitive rower I know as well as James Cracknell that rules are rules and if you infringe them in a competition you have to accept the penalty."

'Rules are rules'

Mr Evans said there was confusion over whether the race winners have been formally announced.

Teresa Page, of Woodvale, said winners would be announced once the final rower crossed the finish line, which could mean a wait until mid-March.

But the company's website marks the celebrity team's entry with "1st in class", alongside their finishing time of 49 days, 19 hours.

She said: "A number of boats that have finished the race so far have incurred penalties for a number of things and this will affect the rankings of the race.

"It is certainly not a case of changing the rules to help anyone. The rules are the rules and we will stand by them."

A spokeswoman for Cracknell and Fogle said she was unaware of the row.

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