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18 September 2002, 12:17 pm
And There|s More - Your Feedback Part 2
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The President Speaks - Kinetics Free For All

With feedback from an International Judge, National Judge, Olympic sailors, Masters sailors, and more .......... have your say.
Grant Kleeman, Australia

My feeling is if this is allowed, sailing will no longer be a sport, I have seen these actions actually being taught to Optimist and Sabot sailors and I think it is appalling!!!!!

Long Live the RULES!!!


Jonathan Sharp, Great Britain

Please do not allow a free for all. Your conclusions are absolutely right. Hard though it is on those who have to police it, regulation and control is the only way to keep it sane for the majority.

I am a 50 year-old long time sailboat racer with two teenage children both on GBR National squads. They are brought up to make the most of exploiting but not abusing the rules. Controversially, I would say that my experience of having sailed in some pan European events is that cheating is more rife in other nations.

I was also a racing driver for quite some years and in the junior formulae from which aspiring Grande Prix drivers emerge there was also a tendency to try and bend the rules.

On track this resulted in weaving and blocking to try and keep an opponent behind. Such tactics are also difficult to police in the same way as pumping etc in sailing as it is difficult to differentiate between a legitimate move across the track and a deliberate weave. in the end (and this problem has recurred several times over the years) the organising authorities have simply had to clamp down with greater authority on drivers who infringed the rules and invoke harsher penalties to deter potential transgressors.
I was one of the young hotheads and got my knuckles rapped for weaving and banging wheels to try and keep an opponent at bay.

Keep the rule, invoke it hard, use the penalties, deter the potential transgressors. If they want to pump their life away tell them to go and sail windsurfers.


Brian Conolly, Australia

As a laser sailor in the master division I will hate the fact that free-for-all-kinetics is put on trial. The levels of fitness to do well in a laser are already extremely high, and to add kinetics will make it worse.

Maybe it will inspire boat designers to develop a cheap one design single handed skiff.

The outcome of any trial is so predictable why have it? Kinetics is not sailing.


Andrzej Ostrowski, ISAF International Judge, Poland

Yes - the situation in disregarding propulsion rule is inquieting. However the radical proposal to heal influenza by contracting tuberculosis is appalling.

Consider all those races where rule 42 would be removed from the Rules asd mentioned in the Notice of Race - people fighting with sheets, booms and hands to push through areas of light wind, as often happens around marks. Deja vu! Some of us can still remember that at the end 60-ies it was not attractive to go to some regattas because of massive use of kinetics.

There were even opinions offered that (in light airs) wind is a nuisance, one could propel his boat much more effectively with human energy than with wind energy.

What can be now observed in some board races, if transplanted to boat sailing, will lead to completly different competitors skills, leading to injuries still more serious than in board sailing - the sails and masses propelled are much larger. What is probably a justified technique of periodical increasing angle of attack wind against sail surface in such a way as to keep the flow laminar, and releasing the sail before the flow is broken (proper definition of pumping), working for greater wind velocities, is carried into a nonsense 'air rowing' as President names it, in no wind situations. And in these extremes the injuries occur.

It is true that appropriate "on water judging"is required for fairness of the competition. If it is required - it has to be there. Nobody would propose removing judges and rules in boxing. The 'catch as catch can' approach would certainly lead to easy organisation, with some death accidents quite often..

I hope the November Conference would refrain from introducing dangerous solutions just before Olympics and when facing considerations by IOC whether sailing is like wrestling and which of them to limit.


Miles Wood

Sailing is the natural action of wind on sails ect. Air rowing, I love the term, is not sailing. A pump or oooch to catch a wave yes, but continual, no way. Lets keep sailing sailing, not a sport of other continuous physical manoeuvres, dictate the crafts speed.

Windsurfing racing has dropped due to unlimited pumping. Those who are not able to maintain pumping loose out and many do not believe that was how or why the sport was intended to evolve to!

Keep sailing, sailing!


Tony Denham, Australia

I am a Laser GGM (very old fart) who intends sailing in the 2003 World Masters Championships in Spain.

There is no way the majority of the competitors in the GM or GGM divisions could indulge in extensive kinetics. This proposal would wipe out Masters sailing, which is a high proportion of the sailors in a number of classes (apart from the fact that I am totally opposed to legalising cheating).


Jim Orrell, Australian Yachting Federation National Judge, Australia

I feel perhaps you have overstated what should be allowed under RRS 42. I have always believed that rocking, ooching etc are all allowable. After all it is using the boat, wind, waves and body to propel. But of course swimming, paddling and walking the boat through a shallow patch are not.

This is the one area in which Judges bring themselves and the rules into disrepute due uneven handedness and zealotry. To suggest as some have done, that let's have the race inside a pool if you can pump etc miss the point.

The race course is a wide unenclosed area with different affects at different points. So some will have conditions and other not. It is still a fair contest in my view.

Don't just limit it to Olympic classes remove all propulsion prohibitions except swimming, paddling use of motor and walking, for all


Tony Jack

Well HOORAY! About time to put the burden on the sailors one way or the other.

One further suggestion. Allow the classes (including Olympic classes) to write their own kinetics (or anti kinetics) rules and see which classes thrive. The suggested form could be the current rule. My guess is that all may thrive but the demographics of the classes will change.


Ernst Schliemann, Austria

My opinion to your Rule 42 is that it should not be changed and that ISAF has to give tools to the judges to bring those "sailors" back to sailing, who now try to change the sport.

An exception may only made for the nowadays olympic windsurfers, who sometimes really need to use pumping to get their boards planning, but normally it should be not that way that specialist in pumping are really winning the races by pumping the whole race.

In the future of windsurfing with the new Formula Windsurfing equipment pumping will lose a lot of its power due to larger sails and other kinds of boards than used now in the olympics.

I can follow your intention that sailing does not mean sailrowing around a course and I hope that the rule 42 will not be altered or cancelled.


Stephen White

I would be amazed should ISAF open the door for unlimited pumping, rocking, ooching, sculling, leech flicking and bouncing. Olympic yachting seems set to become totally physical and minimally mental (hardly the pinnacle of our sport!) with the potential exception of the planing hull 49ers and tornados and displacement sailing stars and ynglings.

Yacht racing requires a mixture of tactical, technical and physical skills - it stands uniquely among sports, making greatest possible use of natural energy. The means by which this achieved has for a time been suspect in small marginal planing type boats.

The single-handed Lasers, Europes and Finns observed running from a distance clearly display the extent to which rocking is employed. I personally chose to no longer race lasers as those most willing to flout the rules of racing gained dis-proportionately. Despite the rewards of the intense challenge racing lasers, I chose to leave the class some years ago and now choose to race yachts of various types and disciplines, and wouldn't consider returning unless propulsion rules were tightened and rigidly enforced.

As a result of the mayhem which will no doubt eventuate should 'wind rowing' be given the green light, hopefully, all those involved will come to their senses. The opposite course of action, that illegal forms of propulsion are policed out of the sport, and ISAF is heavily armed in its pursuit of those who pursue such an unfair advantage seems more logical and would be the ideal eventuality from the proposed experiment.

Consider the potential scenario whereby the stars of pumping and rocking win their way through national trials to Athens in 2004, only for the rules to return to the sane version before the games - who could possibly be pleased?

Olympic yachting has for some time been treated by ISAF and national authorities as the top league of yacht racing. Why discredit the challenge?

There would be little point recruiting a master of kinetics for the next VOR or to crew on your Farr40.


David Wilkins, former Olympic FD Sailor, Ireland

I have competed at 5 olympics from 1972 to 1992 in FD and Tempest with 1 silver medal.

I race a Laser today and am commodore of Rutland Sailing Club in UK, which is one of 5 Uk National Sailing Academys. I dont have much time now for really serious racing, but intend to do Laser Masters events in the future. I hope to go to Cadiz next year. So I still have aspirations for competing at international level.

Personally, I think to 'open things up' would be a complete disaster for sailing. Sailing is about 'the natural action of the wind on the sails' not about fanning the boat around the course.
I think the rule is about right now
- In light winds, no unnatural action is allowed and it is perfectly obvious when people are doing it. Will we end up cleating the Laser main and standing on the bow and rocking the boat about the course. How can anyone justify that. I would give up sailing if thats what we ended up with.
- Pumping is a difficult one. There is no doubt that one or two pumps promote planing and that to me seems reasonable, but continuous rocking, pumping etc - definitely are not. Again it is generally pretty obvious when it is being done.
It seems that the argument about giving up is all to do with policing it. There is a strong analogy with drugs. I am totally against the idea of getting rid of the ban on drugs. It seems that you have to have rules to protect the integrety of the sport, otherwise the sport becomes a sham.
The blatent disregard for the rules of sailing are primarily at or near the top. But these are policed by juries. Nobody likes to disqualify someone, but if they are cheating, then they must be stopped. If the rule is clear (which I think the present one is), then it is not a problem. Again the real issue seems to be that people dont like the 'unpopularity' that appliying the rules harshly brings.

But in many ways it is an attitude of mind.
My suggestions are:
- Keep the rules more or less as they are now (I am not sure the penalty process is as good as it could be, but dont have any comments on that yet - but for example, I am not sure that it is right that a sailor should not have the right to a protest if they find they are disqualified - but maybe it has to be 'tough' to be enforceable)
- 'Train' your judges and jury members on how to understand and recognise the law breakers
- Get them to enforce the rules pretty rigidly at all events that they attend
- In support of this, from the top down make it known that the ISAF is clamping down on 'unfair sailing'
- Get event organisers to reinforce this and state that it will be rigorously used. The sympathetic view is that nobody wants to disqualify anyone, but the rules must be adhered to and will be enforced on everyone. (just the same as boats and sails must measure, OCS results in disqualification etc)

I reiterate my point, the real issue is at the top of sailing.

You should police the top level events such as 'olympic, world and national championship level' and enforce rigorously.

This will spin down to all levels at national, regional and local level. People at these levels only follow what they see the top people doing.

There are only a few thousand olympic and world level sailors in the world. But if we pander to the pressures of opening things up for them, we end up ruining the sport for the millions around the world who want to race fairly and within the sensible rules of sailing.

The issue of the coaches and sailors writing books about blatent cheating needs different treatment.

Could you not apply bans to coaches 'caught' consistently teaching people how to 'cheat'.

The difficulty is knowing how to police it. Not sure what the answer is, but I am sure there is a way.

Maybe, even though you might find it difficult to 'ban' them, maybe the publishing of a list of 'censored' coaches and 'discouraging' their employment might help.

Maybe you could get the coaches themselves to develop a 'coaches charter' that defines the rules and penalties. It would be pretty obvious then which coaches are the 'cheats'

Finally, if you are going to 'try' it. Please dont do it for everyone. Maybe try it in a few classes (please not the Laser - me being selfish!).

I think if you did introduce it, you would just see a further 'opening of the gap' between the good national/club sailors and the olympic level ones. You could then lose a lot of the good amateur sailors who would get frustrated at the gap that is driven between them and the semi-professional sailors as they develop the 'legal cheating' skills. The result would be the continued decline in those classes at grass roots level and ultimately may lead to the demise of broad based dinghy racing.

Those are my views. Sorry I have gone on a bit. I do feel strongly and cannot see me continuing in sailing if the rules of made 'completely open'. It no longer remains a sport in my view.

Thanks for the opportunity to express a view.


ISAF welcomes your feedback on the original article and feedback received. Please email webfeedback@isaf.co.uk.

Please note that all feedback will be published on the ISAF website, unless the contributor specifically requests otherwise.



The President Speaks - Kinetics Free For All
www.sailing.org/Article_content.asp?ArticleID=3084

Feedback Part 1
www.sailing.org/Article_content.asp?ArticleID=3102

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