The Official
Website of the
Sailing Federation
18 May 2002, 09:42 am
On Disrespect of the Racing Rules of Sailing
No ALT tag specified

The President Speaks - Your Feedback Part 4

On Monday, 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. ISAF publishes your feedback.
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.

Jesse Falsone, President, International 505 Class Yacht Racing Association, American Section
Let's face it, protesting another boat, especially in a one-design class where people tend to know one-another, is no fun. It's distracting while your racing, its time consuming ashore, and most people naturally feel uneasy about going through with a protest. Over the past decade I have witnessed this natural aversion to "conflict" in sailing spawn a culture of acceptance for rules infractions. But what people fail to recognize is that protesting is a necessary evil to preserve the integrity of the contest. If you see a rule being broken on the water, it's your responsibility to protest. Put the discomfort of the situation behind you, calmly state your intentions to the boat your going to protest, and file when you get ashore if they haven't exonerated themselves. There's no need to make it personal - it's just business, and it's an integral part of our game.

Richard Burgess
Dear Mr. Henderson,
Your article about disrespecting the rules was quite interesting. Let me get this straight, you are the President for the Governing body of sailing worldwide and you observed a competitor with a life jacket that was weighted and you did not report it to the jury? Shame on you. A weighted life jacket is intentional and dishonest and you as the top official of sailing have an obligation to bring it to the jury's attention. As for what you saw on the water I think you are right that the judges who know and enforce the rules make a big difference.

Allan Carney, President, Manly Junior Sailing Association of Australia
I would like to add my argument to this debacle. We are a small sailing Association that caters for the development of children in sailing. Our constitution clearly defines the guidelines that must be adhered too to enable a competitor to complete a regatta. The children are taught from the age of 6-8 years of age, good sportsmanship. The history of our successful class are clearly depicted by our predecessors that were wise to the way people attempted to Œrule cheat¹ and were circumvented by the addition of a new rule which was included in 1952 on the advice of Alan Payne (designer of the first Americas¹ Cup challenge boat "Gretel") which stated:-

The" Manly Junior" class is intended to be a training class for learning to sail, and a racing class in which success will be achieved by the skills of the helmsman, and crew. It is not intended as a development class to encourage the building of a finely finished, lavishly equipped lightweight boats.

A builder who constructs a "Manly Junior" with the intention of producing a faster boat than the standard design is not following the objectives of the Manly Junior Sailing Association of Australia.

The race committee at any race conducted by the Association, may reject the entry of a boat which , in their opinion has not been constructed in accordance with objects of the Association. This rejection may even be made even though the boat complies with all existing requirements of the class.

This has driven, and continues to drive our association so that the kid's that graduate to whatever class, do so with the knowledge that what they do is legal and that they are not scared to protest another competitor if they feel they have been wronged. This is not to say that pressure to win at a later stage would not influence them, but at least they get to know right from wrong at such early stage in their development.

It is and continues to be a great shame that the police of our sport do so little to contain rule bending and bad behaviour. I think it is time to get tough, regain some credibility to the wonderful sport of sailing and teach our children how to play fair. We are the bottom of the ladder and I feel that it would put a lot of professionals to shame if they saw the way in which we operate.

Sail Fast, Sail Fair.

Jim Champ, Epsom, Great Britain
Morten Christoffersen, Danish Olympic Sailor 1992, 1996 said:
" The comments by Paul Henderson shows how much out of touch with the sport the leaders of sailing has become."
[Editor's Note: Morten Christoffersen's full comments can be found in the following article:

I don't know about that, Mr Henderson seems to me remarkably in touch with the feelings of many grass roots sailors, more so than any of his predecessors I can think of. Perhaps the Olympic Level sailors are out of touch with the grass roots?

Withhout the financial support, 90% of the worlds sailors would not be able to afford this very expensive sport, making it a sport for the rich. I did two Olympics campaigns and received financial support from my NA.

I wasn't aware that 90% of the worlds sailors received financial support.

Look, dinghy sailing is not an especially expensive sport. I have a one off custom built (part pro, part self) high tech dinghy. I run it on a moderate salary, and don't find it especially onerous. Most people would regard me as being at the high cost end of the dinghy spectrum - the opposite to say a Laser campaign. People at my club who sail things like Lasers and Solos spend even less - perhaps only a few hundred UK pounds a year.

The reason why Olympic campaigns are expensive is very little to do with the equipment and a great deal to do with the amount of travelling and training. The cost of an Olympic campaign could be spectacularly reduced by banning all international regattas other than bi-annual worlds and Olympics, and the training reduced for all but the very rich and government supported by banning financial support. But of course that's not what the sailors want. Fair enough, but wasn't it Voltaire who said something about if being necessary to want the consequences of something you want?

Dierk Polzin, New Zealand
ISAF has clearly dropped the ball for a long time on this issue and it is finally coming back to haunt them. Henderson's technique of yelling at the competitors is simply horrifying. What kind of example does that set for other PRO's and Judges around the world. This is a huge part of what is making the sport of sailboat racing decline. The average Joe does not want to spend their recreational time listening to junior Joe rule enforcers haggle with some kid who roll tacks his laser so that the rail dips into the water. It is terrible Rulemakers who have failed and now have no recourse but to belittle the competitors.

ISAF and the new simplified rules ("one size fits all") mentality has made the kinetics rules enforcement inconsistent, and unenforceable. Not only at the Club Level but at the International Level. Sure it is easy to write a rule that outlaws all kinetics, but the boats we sail these days are most fun to sail allowing the sailors to move around.

The ISAF could release a video outlining what is permissible and what is not. Where is the video from the 2000 Olympics? Now we are at the mercy of local judges with extremely limited experience and no standard to go by. The competitors have no choice but to sail under whatever interpretation this week's presiding judge defines as the limit.

The ISAF could clarify the rule for different conditions and different boats. They could set wind limits. They could define a legal roll tack and determine when rocking is steering and when it becomes pumping.

ISAF could find a way to have Judges who actually have sailed in the boats they are judging. There is now a whole class of people that travel the world Judging competitions who have never sailed in a surfing planing dinghy.

It is humorous that Mr Henderson now thinks that the best method is to belittle the competitors rather then write good rules and explain them clearly before the competition.

Glenn T. McCarthy, USA
I'm not sure where Paul is going with this. The rules on kinetics are
clear, and the choices are:
1. A competitor agrees not to break the rules;
2. If a fellow competitor believes a rule is broken, the competitor has the choice (not requirement) to protest; 3. In the rare occasions, there are on the water judges, who do a reasonable (not total) job of impeding the kinetics. So what is the solution?

When competitors are blatantly violating the rules, when the other competitors do not protest, is the problem a lack of respect for the rule?

Or is it possible that the competitors wish to play the game differently from what the rule states? Is it time to make kinetics an optional rule, where those at the high end level of competition can do it, but for us regular folk, we opt not to do it? Is it time to make it a requirement that someone who observes kinetics and does not protest, can be protested themselves for not protesting?

Is it possible that the amount of time it takes to protest over kinetics is the real barrier? Should a separate protest process be developed for kinetics that expedites the process?

I do enjoy sailing in an event where on-the-water judging does impede kinetics, however, I do not see it as the solution. The rules are clear, it is my job to file a protest and nip this behavior in the bud.

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

Your Feedback - Part 1

Your Feedback - Part 2

Your Feedback - Part 3
Contributors As Indicated/ISAF Secretariat
Share this page
World Sailing TV
Latest News
News Archive
© 2015 Copyright ISAF/ISAF UK Ltd. All Rights Reserved Privacy & Cookies delivered by Sotic powered by OpenText WSM