BIRMINGHAM, Ala. The G-man has been DQ'd.
Angler Gerald Swindle, who began the second day of the Bassmaster Classic in ninth place, had his Saturday catch disqualified after he sped recklessly close to other boats on Lay Lake, BASS officials ruled.
Classic tournament director Trip Weldon announced at a hurried afternoon news conference that Swindle on Saturday morning "ran too close to boats on the water," including the boats of an ESPN cameraman and fellow Classic angler Randy Howell.
Weldon made his ruling based on the cameraman's video of the episode. It shows Swindle piloting his boat into a channel full of boats, motioning that he was coming, and then spraying the deck of the cameraman's boat as he buzzed past.
The camera turned back to Howell, who stands nonchalantly on the deck of the boat as it rocks under Swindle's wake. "He shouldn't have done that," Howell surmised.
Said Weldon: "I was not there with a measurement, guys, but it was too close. Close enough to be unsafe."
The DQ virtually assured that the 2004 BASS Angler of the Year from nearby Warrior, Ala., will not survive the 25-angler cut to fish on Sunday.
Reached immediately after Weldon's announcement, Swindle's wife, LeAnn, said she had heard from her husband shortly after he learned of the decision. "He's very, very upset," she said.
Swindle did not answer his cell phone.
Charismatic, skilled and handsomely endorsed, Swindle still hasn't won a BASS tournament, but he has finished as high as third at the Classic.
Howell began the Day 2 of the Classic in second place behind Boyd Duckett. The close encounter took place near the north end of Lay Lake, Weldon said.
Swindle's lead foot was in force even as he left Paradise Point Marina on Saturday. As the first wave of 25 boats idled into the channel, Swindle cut around several boats and passed them.
It was a BASS photographer who notified Weldon that Swindle had buzzed by the boats near the north end of the lake. Weldon said Swindle specifically violated rules 5i and 6ii, which govern safe boat conduct and "maximum courtesy" in sportsmanlike boating.