Saturday, June 04, 2005


I sailed a Sunfish regatta at the club on Memorial Day. I'm not too fond of the boat these days but there's a lot of Sunfish racing around here. When in Rome do as the Romans do.

It would have been a good regatta except for one thing. The day was marred by accusations of cheating. A sailor who is new to the area and had been doing well in the morning races left at lunchtime. When I asked other fleet members why he had left, I was told that he had committed a foul and not done his penalty turns. At lunch the husband of the woman who was fouled had requested the offender to retire from that race. Apparently the newcomer had said he had done his turns but his accusers would not take his word for it. Eventually he decide to withdraw from the regatta and go home.

I felt bad. I had met the newbie before and he seemed to be a nice enough guy as well as a good sailor. Just the kind of person we would want in our fleet. But now he was pissed off and we might not see him again. Words like "cheat" and "liar" were being used. Feelings were high.

I had no idea who was right or wrong. I tend to have a mistrust of any account where I have only heard one side of the story. Maybe he did do his turns. Maybe he wasn't the one at fault in the original incident. Maybe he was having a bad day; we all do. Maybe he is a jerk. I don't know.

This club has a history of harsh words being used, feelings being hurt and someone leaving the club in a huff, never to be seen again. I don't know why. Not all sailing clubs are like this.

The incident leaves a nasty dark cloud hanging over what would otherwise have been a perfect day.

Why can't we all play nice?


EVK4 said...

That is unbelievable...I understand competitive spirit, but sheesh, it's a Sunfish. That's the boat I took my first sailing lesson on; it's not some gran prix sailboat.

My philosophy on things like this is that until "they" start paying me, I'm in it for fun.

More importantly, congrats on winning the regatta, I hope you smoked the complaint lady.

Tillerman said...

Yeah - it was a Sunfish regatta. And the Sunfish class has a self-image of a warm and fuzzy, friendly, family-oriented class.

But it was a race -- and there are rules. And in sailboat racing, grand prix or Sunfish, we rely on each other to enforce the rules; there are no referees. If a rule was broken and the offender didn't take his penalty then he shound have retired from the race.

The sad thing is that the incident wasn't resolved amicably. It's only a game. It should be possible to firmly enforce one's rights without upsetting anybody; and someone in the wrong should be prepared to take a penalty or retire from a race without getting upset or angry.

And if competitors can't agree on who is at fault then there should be a protest hearing. Without any emotions or ill-feeling. Accept the decision, shake hands and move on.

The real irony was that at the Laser regatta the day before there were no problems of this kind. And the Laser has the image of being a more "aggressive" class, whatever that means.

Thanks for the congrats. I was actually second at the Sunfish regatta. And it was fun, notwithstanding the incident in my post.

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