On 13 September, the ISAF President proposed a Kinetics Free For All, which understandably provoked considerable feedback. At the beginning of this week Paul Henderson responded to your feedback ... and your input continues to be received.
Links to all previous articles are detailed at the end of this article.
Evan Lewis, Canada
I think that removing rule 42 would be the worst thing that you can do for sailing. This past season I have been at a few judge events and feel that even though they are not perfect they make the sailing much better. I actually think that all events should have on water judges.
If you remove rule 42 even for one year people will get used to it and it will be even worse when you go back to having rule 42 (if that even happens). If you change so there is no rule 42 it will be hard to change back because sailors will have gotten used to cheating.
As a youth laser sailor, I am really bothered by the amount of pumping etc. that goes on at the regattas that I attend. My coach has told me that pumping etc. is not right or fair, but, if someone is going to pass you by cheating then you have to cheat so they don't pass you. Even though you are breaking the rules, it is also not right that people pass you by cheating.
I sincerely hope that rule 42 isn't taken out even for a year, but, if it is I hope for the sake of sailing (not air rowing) that is re-implemented exactly one year after it was taken out.
Dennis Lapham, Zimbabwe
Do Not do it. Sail naturally.
I personally stopped boardsailing as it ceased to be "sailing" immediately after this rule change. Boards did not even make a class at our last Nationals,
I now sail Laser happily, and competitively.
So what Mr Henderson is saying is the same point I made in May. That the current rule as written is unworkable, unenforceable and poorly written. The rule 42 authors had written a rule that does not conform to the realities and complexities of the Sport of Sailing.
Bravo Mr. Henderson! You have woken up.
Mark Dolan, Ireland
A day in the Jury Boat
I arrived in the quiet village of Abersoch, Wales with five sailors from Ireland competing in the UK Laser 4.7 National Championship at the end of August. With three children competing in the championship, I was looking for a place on a spectator boat in the never-ending hope to witness a success in one of the kids, but knowing deep inside that I also should be their to comfort and support them when racing doesn't turn out the way they had hoped. The lovely and extremely helpful ladies in the race office arranged for me to go on the Jury boat, if I didn't mind. I jumped at the chance to be in the middle of the action and not relegated to 100 meters behind the fleet as most support boats are usually required to be. Here was my chance to witness my children up close. Andrew Cokayne collected me in the 5-metre rib supplied for the Jury boat and I was asked about my knowledge of the rules and in particular, rule 42. I explained that I was an experienced racer and gave him a brief history of my international sailing experience. "Great", he said, as he told me what to look for at the start of the Standard Fleet. The starting gun sounded and he pointed to a boat directly in front of us. "There!! One, two, three, four, five pumps" as the sailor directly in front of us pumped his body in an effort to break loose of the starting line. "Did you see that?" he said looking for the confirmation he knew he'd get. "Yes" I said, the yellow flag went up and the whistle blew as the offending sailor was told to do his two circles.
This was great and the power was intoxicating as all competitors turned their heads to see who got caught and watched me as I passed judgement and sentence. We dropped back to the Radial Start and allowed the other Jury Boat stay with the Standard Rigs. Two more boats were not allowed to escape the scrutiny of Mr. Cokayne as we now dropped back to the start for the 4.7 rigs. Finally I had a chance to see my children in action on the gorgeous sunny day. "One, two three four five pumps. There I got no. 175649, Did You see it?" I was silent. "Do you confirm?" Mr. Cokayne asked again and I informed him that I did see it, but had to disqualify myself from the decision as he just called my son! "I'm sorry but I have to call him". He motors towards my son and directs me to wave the yellow flag as he calls out the numbers. The look my son gave me left me numb, as I knew a lot more issues than pumping at the start were going to be raised after the race. All of a sudden this was not fun any more as Andrew tried to console me by explaining the last time he called someone who's parent was aboard he went on to win a gold medal.
I settled down and it seemed the sailors took note of our presence and were very tame for the rest of the race. "How many did you get" was the banter between the jury boats after the race as they discussed the various situations they encountered. Race two was "unexciting" from a jury point of view with neither jury boat bringing the whistle anywhere near their mouth. I began to get a headache from straining my eyes and concentrating on trying to find that elusive sailor who was trying to cheat without being noticed. "There again, did you see that?" "I'm sorry Andrew, I didn't" which boat are you looking at?" We were looking at the same boat, but he could see cheating where I could not. The sailors were not taking any chances after the morning penalties and any cheating that was going to be done would be very subtle. I watched as the sailor manoeuvred his boat expertly downwind, but I failed to see any body movement or hand movement to suggest rocking or pumping. "Let's try it from a different angle" Andrew patiently informed me as we turned the rib and headed 100 metres behind the pack of boats that included our target. "Now do you see it?" he asked again. Sure enough, when looking at a bunch of boats from a distance, the mast on the boat in question was rocking far greater than any other. Despite my ability to detect any movement on behalf of the sailor, the boat was rocking excessively and according to the rules, he fell victim to the whistle and flag. As I waited for the stunned look that I know I would have given had I been called, I was amazed that the sailor nodded and immediately took his turns exclaiming "Sorry Andrew". There was no question he knew what he was doing and knew that he got caught. "You know him?" I asked as Andrew explained they go back a long time. This job was getting tougher as I realised I would have great difficulty in calling acquaintances if I wanted to participate in the craic back at the bar.
The rest of the day was the same as Andrew did not let up in surveying the entire fleet. I tried as much as I could to keep him away from the 4.7 fleet for fear that one of my three children would be recognised. Now that I had already pointed out my children, it seemed that he took an even greater notice of them. God I wish this day would end. Oh no! We're at the finish of the 4.7 and he's looking right at my daughter. "Please, please, please, please, don't do anything stupid", I think to myself and hoping there is such a thing as telepathy. No infringement and we turn to the Radials. On the final downwind leg of the Radial race we witnessed a dogfight between the third and fourth place boats. They were masters of their boats as they skimmed their way up and down the waves and coming within inches of each other. Both boats were working extremely hard and knew we were a boat length behind scrutinising every move. I could not help but think of the pressure that these two must be under, trying to drain every inch of speed to gain the advantage while all the time knowing that every little move was being watched. Up and down the waves they went, easing the sail and then pulling it in as the came up. All of a sudden one boat jumped ahead two boat lengths and the whistle came out. This time I just could not see it. I did not see an extra body movement or hand pump to make the boat jump ahead and was of the opinion that the other boat just let his guard down. Andrew was disappointed as he was convinced their was something happening that he couldn't catch, but it would have been a brave sailor to have tried anything with the jury boat just a boat length behind.
I had a pint with the jurors after the races to discuss the day and what I thought. Andrew and Eddie explained that it was always interesting to have a competitive sailor on board as they tend to look at the racing in a completely different way. One would assume that they are their to look for cheating, while I looked at the same boat and was thinking of ways they could go faster, without cheating of course. The jury are only looking to give a level playing field for everyone. They are not out to catch every infringement as there are only two boats watching over 100 competitors in three fleets. But I was reminded of the events of the day, when I would look at a boat that caught my eye and as I looked at the sail, the same numbers seemed to come up all day. There was no question that certain boats were pushing the limit, but that's what sailing is about. However, there is also no question about the need for a jury boat to keep them in line. I told them of how scared I was of ever racing a Laser again as I usually find myself concentrating the whole downwind leg on trying not to rock and keep my boat under control. They laughed and explained that the good sailors certainly can keep their boat under control and sometimes they can induce rocking without moving a single muscle but by the way they set up their rig. I also confessed that as the day went on, I was concerned that we were actually looking for things that were actually not there. "Did you find them and did you call them?" the other juror asked. "No", I said. "There you go now, we looked for something, didn't find it, and we went on. That's the job".
I went to bed exhausted. I was more tired from concentrating on boats than sailing them myself. I came away with a new awareness and respect for the Jury boats. They give up their weekends and volunteer to work hard and concentrate all day to make the racing fair for all competitors. To make a call against a friend or associate, and then explain the decision afterwards indicates their dedication to the sport as a whole. They take their job seriously and they know they are being watched as much as watching, and are subject to criticism about their decisions that require much thicker skin than I was born with. On Sunday I declined the offer to join the Jury again. I had two children in the top five and I could not take the pressure. What a relaxing day I had, and a wonderful regatta. However, on the ferry back to Ireland, I thought it strange that while everyone else was sifting through the Sunday papers, I, after at least five years, I was reading a copy of the racing rules.
It's encouraging to see a theme emerging about the decisions on kinetics being made at a class level. There are simply too many kinds of boats - and of competitors - for blanket solutions to work for everyone. This is true whether these 'solutions' attempt to work through limiting what physical actions may or may not be done, or through trying to control the layout of the boats. Some classes require a lot of movement in the boat to sail them effectively (and enjoyably!). Others don't. In some classes, not using a four-part mainsheet might be a good indicator of pumping. Other classes routinely use two-part purchases (and remember all those Enterprises, Wayfarers, etc, with transom sheeting - never mind many skiffs).
And quite apart from the need to recognise the differing physical characteristics of different boats, let's not forget that the class associations are the bodies through which the people actually doing the sailing in a given kind of boat can decide for themselves what they want. Who is anyone else to tell them that they are wrong? It seems to be difficult for the 'men in blazers' to delegate to and empower others closer to the ground - it would be great to esee ISAF giving it a try...
Judging - if needed, and judges can be a considerable expense and so should not be forced on classes/events where they are not really required - needs to be conducted with understanding of the characteristics of the boats concerned. So the judges should (and some don't) work with the class to understand those characteristics. This might not need to go as far as a 'class video', but if the class can explain how their boats behave in certain conditions, things to look out for, perhaps define 'norms' of behaviour, it will give the judges something to work to and help provide the consistency which seems to be so lacking and which lack seems to be causing so many of the problems.
But again, the classes should need to do this only IF they
have a problem in the first place.
So ISAF, by all means provide a 'default case' (which might easily be the current rule) which those for whom kinetics are not a big issue can easily adopt - but after that allow (and encourage) the classes to adapt this as their members - the sailors - desire. And, if needed, follow up by providing a framework for judges to work to.
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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
Feedback Part 1
Feedback Part 2
Feedback Part 3
The President Responds to Feedback