Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bad Manners

We had an interesting case of extreme band manners and potential unsportsmanlike conduct in the US 2.4 Midwinters. I wouldn't report on it except for an interesting boat measurement issue a few years back involving the same person.

During race 2 of the Midwinters the French 2.4m team joined in the racing, having sat out and watched the first race of the day. Nobody thought much of it as many teams were just using the Midwinters as training for the OCR. FRA 13 Damien Seguin won the race, and decided to miss out the next one. Fair enough, he's got good speed in those conditions, so headed on it. On the scoreboard that evening it was noted though that neither French boat had actually entered the regatta. No entry form had been submitted, no payment received, and no contact made with the host club or the class representatives at all. Yet on day 2 of racing they joined in again, having still not entered or made any efforts to react to the information clearly displayed on the noticeboard. Mixing it with the fleet on the startline, and influencing a lot of people's races. The fleet made their thoughts known on the water! The committee boat sent a mark boat over to FRA13 to question about this conduct. I don't know what was said, but a rather frank exchange between the mark boat and the committee boat was heard over the open VHF channel for the regatta discussing that the mark boat was spoken to so rudely that they'd like to take rule 69 action against him! (This encouraged a cheer from all those listening in on channel 11! which included competitors as well). FRA13 was aware he wasn't entered, as was made clear by his token effort of not actually finishing the races. Yet he'd influenced many people on the race course up to that point. His coach boat did go in during the day to try and register, but in how many regattas can you go ashore and enter on the second day of competition?

The race committee had politely asked them to leave, yet both French boats continued to join in the racing. At this point the race committee were in touch with an International Judge on the shore asking for advice on any possible course of action. I think rule 69 was out because they weren't competing in the regatta, but fundamental rule 2 was an option.

Once ashore after racing the race committee filed a report of unsportsmanlike conduct against both French boats, and submitted it, along with letters of complaint from over half the fleet to the International Jury that was in town for the Miami OCR starting the next day.

When it was clear the fleet and committee were not happy, various excuses such as 'my credit card wasn't working', and 'can we pay now?' came out, but in the eyes of the fleet and organisers it was all too little too late.

They were called in to meet with the Jury but nobody knows what happened next.... Probably just a telling off, but at least they were called up on it.

The interesting element to this is the measurement fiasco of the 2005 IFDS Worlds just after the 2004 Paralympics.. Involving FRA13... Where during an inspection before the regatta his boat was found to have extra metal in the keel. With the lead taken out, the metal detector still beeped when run over the keel! As this was a pre-regatta inspection to clarify some measurements for a rule amendement no official action could be taken. He wasn't allowed to use the boat in the regatta and borrowed another French boat (an old one of his) to compete (and win) in. Everybody knew this was the same boat that had just won the Gold Medal in Athens. The initial response was that the keel had been damaged after the Paralympics, and the builder must have done something.... Then we later hear that it had been argued that it wasn't the Athens boat.

But then we are starting to get into dinghy park rumours. The key thing is where is the official IFDS / ISAF report on the investigation into this matter?

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