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26 June 2002, 10:24 am
Controlling Rule 42
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Disrespect of Racing Rules Of Sailing

In May, 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.
We thank ISAF International Judge and International Umpire Graeme Owens (AUS) for the following comments:

"Rule 42 has had a lot of attention and publicity recently, much focusing on on-water control by judges. A recent report said that at a major event in Europe rocking and pumping was so common that the judges caught and penalized about sixty breaches.

At this year's Australian National Laser Championship there were about 100 competitors. After the event some class officers congratulated the National Jury for the manner in which rule 42 had been handled. One said it was normal at events to hear competitors complaining about other boat's actions but this time he had not heard one complaint. A number of competitors came to the Jury to say how pleased they were and said there had been fewer problems with rule 42 than they could recall at a Laser championship. I did not disclose that although there had been umpteen races held over a full week we had given only six on-water penalties. Why the big difference between the two events? Was there something different in the way the judges handled things? Perhaps there was.

A few weeks back there were complaints about too many motorists speeding through a 'slow' zone past a primary school near me. So one morning the police put a radar behind a tree at the end of the zone and caught about 30 cars that had already sped past the school. A week later the police returned but this time they put a cop by the side of the road at the beginning of the zone. He stood in view looking like he was out of "Star Wars." A big guy in black with riding breeches, helmet, dark glasses, feet astride, left hand on his hip and pointing a potent looking ray gun with his right.

How many speeders did he catch? None! But how many cars sped past the school? None! And the different result was because it now was clearly demonstrated that all were under observation and retribution would surely result.

At the Laser event we made sure all competitors knew we were right there. Our judge boats were clearly recognisable, we got right in amongst the boats on the course, in the prestart period we motored about in the throng saying "Hi" to the competitors, in the final 30 seconds to a start we motored down the full length of the line just to windward of it standing up with a flag in hand so all saw us. We demonstrated we were serious when we
gave a penalty on the line at the first start of the first race for bouncing, and a penalty on the first downwind leg of that first race for rocking. When penalizing we used the best whistles, took our deepest breath and blew so hard and long and loud that distant football matches thought it
was full-time and the ears of 100 Laser competitors rang to remind them to sail steady as rocks. And only six penalties were needed.

I do not how the event in Europe was handled but perhaps the different result between that event and the Lasers was a more obvious demonstration that the judges were on-hand and would act. Our primary objective is surely to stop the rule being broken, not to hand out penalties after it has been broken.
Graeme Owens, Jury Chairman, Australian Laser Nationals 2002

Paul Henderson's Comments
"I could not agree more. Sailors want competent, involved, fair, Judges whose responsibility is to ensure respect of the rules of Sailing not to disqualify sailors. ISAF must provide that or we end up in the controversy now at FIFA World Cup or in the Olympic Figure Skating. ISAF must act."

The following are links to the previous articles published on Disrespect of Racing Rules of Sailing:

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

Your Feedback - Part 5 - 22 May 2002

Graeme Owens/ISAF Secretariat
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