There has been a lot of buzz in the sailing blogosphere this week about one of the greatest threats to the spirit of Corinthian sailing... those pesky coach boats, a.k.a. Mommy Boats.
First of all Scuttlebutt drew attention to a problem caused by Mommy Boats at the Optimist Team Trials (which are used to select the US Optimist sailors to be sent to major events around the world each year.) One young man who sailed in the trials, Bradley Adam revealed that "some kids had coaches upwind who radioed back to the starting line what the breeze was doing at the windward mark." Oh come on! That's not fair. It may be strictly legal within the Racing Rules of Sailing (as long as it is done before the prep signal) but the parents who are paying multiple coaches to help their kids with tricks like this are doing everyone a disservice.
Then Earwigoagin wrote a post about the Laser Atlantic Coast Radials and the annoyance caused to many sailors by so many Mommy Boats buzzing about the race course. Jacob D left a comment on this post saying...
I was also disturbed by the last minute instructions to those with coach support. That just isn't right! Isn't there a FAIR SAILING rule (RRS #2)? The SIs should be written in such a way that this isn't possible.Indeed they should Jacob D. We should either prohibit coach boats in the Sailing Instructions or, even better, classes should decide to ban the pestilence altogether from their regattas. According to Scuttlebutt (again), the Star class recently voted to address this issue by prohibiting "all contact between athletes and coaches after leaving the harbor until the end of the last day race of the day." Right on!
And check out what Susie Pegel said about REAL Laser sailors this week.
A REAL Laser sailor is someone who drives their own boat to a regatta and sails the event unaided by coaches or support boats.
Enough is enough. I'm mad as hell about Mommy Boats and I'm not going to take it any more. So please urge regatta organizers to use their regatta SIs to ban coaches providing unfair assistance to the select few who feel the need win so badly that they will resort to such dubious measures. And please campaign within your class association to persuade your class to adopt a rule banning communication between coaches and sailors from the time the sailors leave the dock until the time the last race of the day is finished.
I know this is going to be a tough fight. There is a whole generation of young sailors who don't know how to race without their Mommies or their surrogate Mommies helping them. There are a whole bunch of guys and gals making money by "coaching" at regattas. (But please don't misunderstand me. I'm not against coaches earning a living by training sailors outside of regattas. I just don't want you making the game unfair during regattas.)
And fellow Laser Master sailors... can't we at least agree to ban the use of Mommy Boats at Laser Masters regattas? Do we want to be "REAL Laser sailors" like Susie Pegel or to be more like the spoiled rich kids at those youth regattas?
So join the campaign. Let's Ban Mommy Boats NOW.
Update: to be fair, check out also The Other Side of the Argument.