THIS IS POSSIBLY THE BEST SMALL BOAT RACING EVER
This event is in court. The skipper of the yacht is contending that he was in the right.
Dave Perry is so clear spoken on the subject of the racing rules for sailing. He is so willing and patient with questions, it was a pleasure to spend the day on an uncomfortable chair while the sun shone through the window. I look forward to the opportunity to attend another seminar on rules for match racing and team racing.
It is with sadness I report the passing of Bruce McPherson. He was very bright,clever and intellectually curious; always exploring the deeper corners of thought.
John Bruce McPherson of Hyannisport (MA) passed away peacefully on March
15, 2011. A graduate of The Lawrenceville School and the University of
Virginia, Bruce spent most of his life as a designer. In 1966, Bruce moved
to New York City to work for yacht designer Sparkman and Stephens, becoming
Olin’s right-hand man in many ways during the ’60s and ’70s.
In 1975, he designed and built the Maltese Cat, his own 30′ racing yacht.
He later designed and built his dream sailboat, a 36′ 20-knot cruising boat
known as CAYUSE. Bruce spent his recent years on Cape Cod exploring his
interest in responsible wind energy.
A memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 19, at Union
Chapel, 15 Wachusett Ave., Hyannisport. Donations, in lieu of flowers, may
be sent to Cape Cod Maritime Museum, 135 South St., Hyannis, MA 02601,
designated for the “McPherson Sailing Skiff Project.” —
The following is written by Peter Wilson, with whom I have sailed and respect enormously. For me it touches a cord that transcends sailing, and questions our essential values as a society.
IS THE ‘FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE’ STILL RELEVANT?
By Peter Wilson, US SAILING Umpire/Senior Judge
As a racing sailor who is also a coach, judge and umpire, I worry that the
‘fundamental principle’ which is the foundation of our (mostly) ‘self
regulating’ sport has become significantly less relevant. As a consequence,
our racing rules appear to have less value to competitors, and the behavior
we expect these rules to encourage is not as prevalent as it used to be.
Quoting from the RRS, “Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by
a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental
principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will
promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.” Most of us would agree
that this means; 1) If I hit a mark and whether someone sees me do it or
not, I should take a one-turn penalty; 2) If I tack to port because I can’t
fetch the starting pin and force a boat on starboard to tack when she can
fetch, I should take a two-turns penalty whether or not the other boat
hails protest; and 3) If a boat fouls me in a way that significantly
worsens my position in the race, I should enforce the rules and protest.
However, what I have observed on the race course over the past fifteen
years, in the U.S. and abroad, is a growing percentage of sailors who do
not enforce and follow the rules. I see sailors break rules with contact
between boats and ignore their infraction, even when the other boat
protests or the infringing boat gains an advantage in a flagrant foul. I am
not talking about incidents where who is at fault is unclear and no penalty
turns are taken or no one is protested. We all do that from time to time.
I’m talking about the apparent trend towards an obvious level of clear
infractions with no action by either party. What seems puzzling is, if it
is so easy to exonerate, why does it happen so seldom? Why do sailors break
rules and keep on sailing if no one protests? Why do sailors use kinetics
when there are no judges around? And a related question is, why aren’t
there more protests taken to the room? Are the rules not as relevant in
today’s world as they used to be?
Perhaps the best analogy is speeding on the highway. Lots of us drive above
the speed limit. But when the radar detector says we are approaching a
trap, or we see a cop parked up ahead or coming up behind us, we slow down.
But most of the time, the ‘speeders’ speed. Similarly, when there are
judges or umpires enforcing Rule 42 (kinetics) on the water, body pumping,
rocking, and sculling seem to disappear when the judge boats are close by,
but they often reappear when the judge moves on to observe other boats.
And, when judges whistle their observation of a foul with the option to
protest, competitors usually take their penalty.and when the judges are not
around (or don’t whistle/protest), not much happens. Just like speeding, it
seems as if one doesn’t break a rule unless an official says we do.
(My only remark of a minor sort would be that I have never agreed with the rule against pumping. It is a skill that must be developed to do well. That said, until the rule is changed it is still a violation. ) But this is a remark that is not at the core of Peter’s thesis.