Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pushing the Limits

Scuttleblog raises an interesting issue in a post about Paige Railey entitled Bad Habits. For those of you who have been living under a stone for the last few months, Paige has recently won honors as ISAF Female World Sailor of the Year and US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, and is one of the two leading contenders for the US spot in the Laser Radial class at the next Olympics. On the other hand she has been disqualified from two recent major Laser Radial championships for illegal use of kinetics. In each case she was flagged three times by the umpires for violating Rule 42.

Read what Scuttleblog has to say, but also go to
Jobson Sailing and click on Rolex Laser Radial Moment under Online Video Reports. There are some aerial shots of Paige sailing and an interview about this issue with her. Sounding remarkably composed for someone just bounced from a major regatta she calmly explains that she was trying some new things that were "not good" for the judges.

What do you make of this? Everyone accepts that to perform at the highest level in the Laser and Radial classes you have to push the limits of what is acceptable in using kinetics to propel the boat. Does Paige not know the limits? Does she not know how to adjust her game after the first two flags in a regatta? Is this, as Scuttleblog implies, a "bad habit" of hers?

Or is she actually playing an ultra-smart game by trying out different techniques prior to the Olympic Trials and the Olympic Games in order to assess what the limits of acceptable kinetics are and what the judges will call? As in many aspects of sailing -- and life -- do we need to cross the line before we know exactly where the line is?

7 comments:

Eliboat said...

I haven't been racing in classes that are watched too closely for kinetics in a while, but when I was there seemed to be a disconnect between some of the older judges and the sailors themselves. In many cases the judges were applying a standard that was far too strict in relation to the rule and other judges weren't . I, and many others, found this to be pretty frustrating. I'm sure that the judges at Miami OCR are the most competent out there and that everybody in the fleet who is worth their salt is employing kinetics on every leg of the course. Being a top competitor like Paige means that you are under tighter judging scrutiny, and it really is her responsibility to heed the warnings that she is given. This is easier said than done as, in most cases, a person that uses kinetics is likely to have incorporated that into their overall sailing style...and this is not something that is not easily turned on and off at will if decent wind and waves are present. It is a shame that this happened, but this is something that occurs, and Paige can only learn and grow from it.

Eliboat said...

...sorry for some of the bad grammar in the post above.

Scheherazade said...

Hi Tillerman,

Wanted to email you an article that reminded me of you, but couldn't find your email address on the website. Instead, here's the link. Something about this guy and his quest reminded me of what you're doing. Hope you enjoy it.
http://www.bicycling.com/article/1,6610,s1-4-41-15413-1,00.html

Sherry

Tillerman said...

Thanks scheherazade but I can't get that link to work. Can you email the article to me at tillermeister@gmail.com please.

Also thanks for pointing out that my email address is no longer on the site. I'm sure it was at one point. Wonder how I lost it?

Carol Anne said...

Probably something to do with the Blogger/Google changeover. I've noticed some things that have disappeared in my blog and evk4's as well. And there's how eliboat's name isn't a hot link any more.

Meanwhile, back on topic, I have to agree with eliboat that the top competitors get more scrutiny than the rest of the pack. I've been told that sailing a black boat in a fleet of pale gray ones is also likely to draw unwelcome attention, but at least kinetics isn't a problem with an Etchells.

Anonymous said...

The problem is only partly "pushing the limits." Part of the problem is people who don't care that there are limits. Another part of the problem is having subjective assessment of how much kinetics is too much. I think it has become necessary to push the classes decide whether or not to have kinetics at all. If Laser sailors want to win the Olympic gold medal in sculling and rocking, let them. On the other hand, if they want to sail, they will ban all the kinetic quasi-cheating, down to and including roll-tacking.

--Anchor Dragger

Sarah B said...

I think you do need to learn where ones boundaries are within a racing situation. But kinetics is still rather subjective, particularly in an evil chop seaway.
However in Paige's situation is does mean, according to annatunnicliffe.com that Anna is going to the Pre-Olympics this year so will therefore have more practise in the Olympic venue, and possibly putting her at an advantage.

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