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22 May 2002, 12:29 pm
On Disrespect of the Racing Rules of Sailing
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The President Speaks - Your Feedback Part 5

Last week, the ISAF President voiced his thoughts on the disrespect shown to the Racing Rules of Sailing and how ISAF must ensure greater enforcement and respect for the rules. Your feedback continues to be received.
Firstly, ISAF would like to thank all those who have emailed ISAF and expressed their thoughts and opinons. Thank You.

Your feedback on this subject continues to be welcomed and will be published on the ISAF Website.

Patrick Scharf, QYA South Region Coaching Chairman, Australia
I believe it is over due. I a have great trouble coaching the correct methods to new junior sailors when out of the race track they see their peers and idols doing completely the opposite.

Bring on a down loadable movie clip to show all what is and is not allowed followed up with all Member nations doing education on the subject. The marginal weather areas rely too much on the individuals concept of what is okay or not. The "yellow flag" above certain conditions may help if policed correctly.

Andrzej Ostrowski, Poland
Yes the RRS are not adhered to on many occasions.

I do not refer to boards - due to total easing rules on propulsion (and mark touching) the boards belong to othe realm - may be the International Rowing Federation, at least in light airs. The infringements are often appearing also in singlehander classes, because the ratio helmsman weight/boat weight is high, This can only be regulated by on water policing.

You mentioned Luciano Giacomi whose very presence prevents illegal kinetics. I want to remind about another example - some 15 years ago sailors resigned from participating in Kiel Week because of general disarray on water due to illegal means of propulsion generally occuring on the race course. Then, in beginning of 1900-ies a project under Gunter Persiehl was started, International Juries of 25 persons were expedited on water, in rubber motor boats. I was part of the project over 8 years and I can confirm that in 2 years we had very quiet fleets on the courses.

Finn approved last year a 'flag rule' similar to that of 470's, but it works only above 15 knotts wind speed.

This rule would not help when races, like in Hyeres, are held in light winds. Basic rule 42 is then in force.

The only way out of the present situation is to arrange for strong and numerous water police on water.

Willii Gohl, Germany
First of all, I have to say, that I am still national judge in Germany, with some experiences in Juries at major events.

I agree with the president! But I think, the main problem are not the sailors, but, as Paul Henderson wrote, the tough, but fair officials! We have the rules and we, as judges, must take care, that the sailors follow the rules. It is necessary to be on the water, and we shoud not hesitate to protest.

Perhaps we should have more direct judging on the water, not only with Appendix N

Mark O'Donovan, Ireland
Many of the calls in response to this article have called for fair and consistent judging. Ideally this is a great idea, but not possible all of the time. Look at the other sports around the world where a referee interprets the law as best he can. He will make mistakes and people will have to live with it or as most often happens shout strings of abuse at the referee from the sideline. This happens in every other sport.

The ISAF should however ensure that international events have as consistent as possible decisions both throughout an event and between different events. National Authorities should do the same for regional and National events.

The argument that inconsistent decisions are a reason to allow cheating should not be entertained.

There was also the argument that protesting was too long and cumbersome. I agree wholeheartedly with this attitude. I have often seen an infringement on the water and no protest result, and on occasion when the protestor does go ahead with a protest only to find that he took too long in putting up a flag or shouted at the infringe to do a penalty turn before hailing a protest and have the protest thrown out because the protestor did not hail protest at the first available opportunity.

The protest procedure must be streamlined to assist those who do protest. I hope the ISAF streamline the protest procedure in their effort to clean up sailing.

David Linacre Australia
Thank you for your reference to the comments by many sailors and coaches with reference to Rule 42

On reading them, most are dissatisfied with the present position. Sailors want to enjoy their sailing and the use of this rule has put a burden on sailors and judges alike

Please alter Rule 42.2 to read that this rule is only applicable in winds under 5 Knots.

This is not perfect, but it will make sailing more enjoyable, reduce the high cost of judging (For rule 42) on the water, and rule breaches with winds under 5 knots will be so obvious that the sailors will protest and sailing will return to enjoyable surfing without a police state. Which Sailors now refer to judges as policemen?

To accuse Sailors of cheating puts a bad light on all yachtsman when the administration can cure the problem.

Ted Beier
President Henderson's approach is on the right track, but is not harsh enough. Anyone caught cheating should be confronted with it and thrown out of the entire regatta with as much shame as possible. This behavior is not new. We who measured boats at the '84 Olympics in LA saw a lot of attempted cheating. We termed it the "European Attitude", which was, "its not against the rules unless you get caught". When they did get caught we got a "sack cloth and ashes" routine about how desolated they where that this unfortunate situation that they were not aware of existed, which was so much rubbish as we had proof time after time the competitors and coaches new full well what was wrong with their boats.

The most frustrating thing was that the ISAF (IYRU back then) measurers would not disqualify the offenders and send them home as they should have done. Instead they would play alone with the sobbing with gushey sympathy and apologetically request that the situation be rectified by requiring the offending team to use another boat, which they always surprisingly had available, ready to go, and able to measure in perfectly.

Until cheating is confronted in the harshest way and caused to accrue all the shame that it should, it will not go away.

Denys Deschambeault
Totally right. It is worse at the top of the fleet. The top performers have this rule perfected to a fine act. It is also blatant upwind.

If you watch a champion long enough you will see him gracefully rocking, flapping the sail without noise our mouvement, ooching like a ballerina,and sculling like a concert conductor. Great show for T.V, or for the general public to watch.

All this is very attractive to the young and they are very quick to copy. Even the close competition think that nobody is cheating, because they think the leaders have found a new way to make the boat faster. Even reporters conclude to this fact.

Please get the rules enforced.

Alejandro Solé, Argentina
First of all I want to congratulate the people from, for keeping the website constantly updated, and providing us (sailing community), informed, wherever we are (Argentina in my case) of the last Sailing News.

My name is Alejandro Solé, I'm 20 years old, and at the moment working on my free time as a coach. I have sailed the optimist and Cadet Class internationally, and 29er´s, and some IMS boats locally in my country. I started coaching when I was 17, and I have been working around the world helping sailors to improve and enjoy more their sailing and their results. I have coached kids from: USA, Japan, Ireland, Southafrica, Mexico, Perú, Argentina, Sweeden, Norway, Germany, Zimbawe, and others, in different clinics. I have participated as coach or Sailor in 6 South American Championships, 2 Europeans, 2 World Championships, and many other Local and International Events.

For the last years I have been concerned about the rule 42, and the way it is applied in the Optimist Class. I am 100% in favour of the rule 42 in light air. I think that a sailor that "skulls" (specially in Optimist with a super big rudder), is someone that wants to win, doesn´t matter what - is someone that knows right from the beginning that he is going to try to win illegally - even before starting the race, or even before going sailing.....And that is NOT what we want in ANY Class, in ANY SPORT

The problem comes when the wind picks up and the waves get big. I was a month ago in Corpus Christi, coaching a team for USODA Trials. The wind was over 15 knots, sometimes over 20, and the waves, were big, and very close to each other. I have some sailors that were called for Rule 42. Some of them while they were Sailing and Bailing. This is something that only the Optimist class has to do and requires a lot of physical movement. For the ones that don´t know the Optimist class, this requires the sailor to first, get the boat over heeled, to get the water on his side, and then move in the boat with the bailer to take it out, before the boat gets heeled to leeward again. You can imagine that this makes the sailor go in and out very quick, in order to keep the boat AFLOAT!. Of course the heavy sailors, can sit on the rail and bail without problem, but for someone that is light and has to hike all the way out, the only way to get the water out is constantly be doing this, and trying to synchronize the bailing with the sailing over the waves. And of course one Pump of a heavy guy (stronger), will be like 2 of a light sailor. The other problem is when they come to the reaches, the fastest boat, is the one that gets more waves. And of course moving along the rail and pumping, will make you go faster.

Of course it is very difficult to determine exactly where is the limit between, complying with rule 42, and breaking it. Specially in really good sailors, that are always flirting with the line. Know what would happen if a rule like the one applied in 470s, where over a certain amount of wind you have no rule 42???

I don't think that the amount of Kinetics in the boat will determine the speed. I think that it is more about feeling the boat, and moving just enough to help the boat surf, or keep it flat. I think than doing the right movements, its 100 times faster than doing a lot of movement. Specially because most of the times the boat is not on a plane.

I know that if the rules were perfectly applied, the rule is fine. But some Juries that are not used to watching the Optimist Class, think that the kids are over moving, and are breaking the rules. And this is bringing a lot of problems to sailors, and of course to coaches.

In my case I teach my sailors to Hike out, as hard as they can, and to bail their boat, like I described before. I think that is perfectly right. Know, when a sailor comes to me into tears, telling me they got a yellow flag, for sailing and bailing, just like I told them to do. My question is: "Should i stop telling them to sail and bail?". Should I tell them to stop sailing, bail and then start again?? Or Should Itell them that the Yellow Flag, was not fair, and they were flagged unfairly???.

I understand that the boat is for young sailors, and they are mostly learning. But I think that if a Class rule is created, and it cleary states, what it is allowed, and in what conditions, and only when the RC decides the rule will be apply. They will be learning to go by the rules. They will learn to feel the boat more in Windy Conditions. They will improve their Boat Handling, and Technique. And Mostly, they will STOP thinking that they way to do it, is to do it while the jury´s don´t see!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have talked about this with a lot of coaches, and I think this are not only my thoughts but a lot of sailors and coaches of the Optimist Class too.

David Ingram, Rangitoto Sailing, New Zealand
Congratulations on your forthright approach to the problem of rule-breaking in Olympic class regattas. I urge all National bodies and regatta officials to put your recommendations into effect. That, and wide publicity on all web-sites of confirmed infringements. Public shame is always a potent discouragement.

Your feedback on this issue is welcomed. Please feel free to email your comments to

Thank You

The President Speaks on Disrespect of Racing Rules - Original Article 14 May 2002

Your Feedback - Part 1 - 14 May 2002

Your Feedback - Part 2 - 15 May 2002

Your Feedback - Part 3 - 16 May 2002

The President Responds to Your Feedback on Disrespect of the RRS - 16 May 2002

Your Feedback - Part 4 - 18 May 2002

The President Responds to Feedback - And The Debate Goes On - 19 May 2002

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