The Scuttlebutt article that triggered my post Ban Mommy Boats NOW also has a lot of constructive comments. Here are some excellent observations on the issue from Mike Moore, including a very appropriate analogy on the protocols for coaching during competition in tennis.
I don't mind that a sailor and a coach might spend hours in training refining tuning. I don't mind that a coached sailor may get a tow to and/or from the racing area. And I don't mind that the coached sailor can benefit from the coaches observations at the end of the day.
Where I grow frustrated is where the coached sailor is told that the current at the mark is such and such, rather than discovering that for himself. Or where the coached sailor has different sails available on the water rather than having to decide for the day at the dock. Or where the coached sailor can feel comfortable under-rigging his boat because he has spare parts available to him on the water.
Tennis may be a good analogy to the compromise I'd propose. Those who want to employ and learn from coaches can. The coach can be in the stadium and observe, but while competing, the coach and the athlete have no communication. After the match is when the coach and athlete can discuss what the coach observed. In sailing, the coach can be on the water, and observe what is happening on the course; but from the first warning to the last finish for the day, no communication is allowed between the coach and sailor (safety issues the only exception). Back on the tow, or at the dock, the coach is free to tell the sailor what he observed; but the sailor has had to make the same decisions for himself that the un-coached sailor has during the course of the day.
Oh, and keep the coaches the heck out of the starting area. Well away. There is nothing worse than having to keep track of a coach boat in a crowded starting area.
Bravo sir! An excellent analogy and I'm sure Maria Sharapova would agree.