Thursday, July 30, 2009

I Love Sweden

How can regatta organizers clamp down on the scourge of Mommy Boats and associated unfair and unsportsmanlike coaching of sailors during a regatta?

There's a good example in the Notice of Race for the Women's Match Race World Championship currently being held in Sweden. See below (emphasis mine).


15.1 Individual Coach Boats shall not be allowed. An individual coach boat is any boat that is under the direction or control of a person gathering information or giving material support for the benefit of particular competitors either on the water or off.

15.2 Coaches may be register during registration time as per 4.1(a) for an accreditation fee of EUR 500. This fee includes access to the same social functions as a competitor. Each team may register one coach.

Only coaches with a valid accreditation are entitled to attend official meetings (e.g. Briefing and Debriefing).

15.3 The OA may provide a combined coach boat. Only coaches registered as per 15.2 are allowed on this boat.
I love it!

I know match racing is a bit different from fleet racing but this is great stuff....
  • No individual coach boats

  • If you want a coach at the regatta at all then they must pay a hefty fee

  • We "may" let the coaches watch the races from a group boat. On the other hand we might not.
That should solve the problem!

Thanks to Scuttlebutt for drawing our attention to this excellent example.


Litoralis said...

This is great, especially the registration fee for coaches. The same NOR sections should be used for every regatta. The only change I would suggest is to make the registration fee payable only in cash and in the equivalent to EUR 500 of a random country's currency, e.g. ZMK 3,575,673.77 (Zambia Kwacha).

Tillerman said...

Oh, that wouldn't be fair. If you did that you wouldn't get any coaches at the regatta.

Much better to let them come, pay their $700 registration fee, let them attend all the regatta parties and spend money at the bar, but then keep them totally off the water during the event by not providing that group coach boat you only said you "may" offer.

That way you get the best of both worlds.

brian said...

I like the intentions of these Swedes, but concerns about the applicability and rights infringements.

I can't have someone video the races? (oh, of course not, because all media rights are owned by ISAF per the RRS).

We can already corral the coach boats for the racing so that they never go upwind of the starting area. That leaves the big discrepancy of them towing racers, so why not a simple SI stipulating that a boat must tow at least one boat not affiliated with that coach up to, say, the boat's horsepower/10, or other simple formula, and that in the event of an emergency must two the nearest max boats. Oh, and that towing is only allowed when announced.

Litoralis said...

I guess so T-man.

What about making the registration fee for coaches some multiple of the normal registration fee for sailors and requiring a registration fee for each sailor (or boat for non-singlehanders) on a coaches "team." The coach cost multiple could also be set at different levels for different levels of regatta, e.g., 2 for a local regatta, 5 for a regional, and 10 for a national championship, etc.

For example, at a national championship regatta, the coach cost multiple would be 10, so if the registration fee is $50 and a coach shows up with a team of four sailors then the total coach registration fee would be $2,000 ($50 x 10 x 4).

The coach registration fee could be used to cover the regatta parties and compensate the race committee for their time.

Bender said...

Easy solution for Coaches. Don't register. Don't pay. Anyone is entitled to be on water. Sailors are entitled to talk to anyone in between races. This socialist ideal of yours is simply not practical in the professional world Tillerman.

tillerman said...

Ah Bender, you have hit the nail on the head. "This ...ideal of yours is simply not practical in the professional world."

I don't sail in the "professional world" Bender. I am an amateur sailor. Nobody pays me to sail. I don't win cash prizes even if I win. I want to sail in amateur regattas against other amateur sailors in a Corinthian spirit of competition.

Yes, professional sports like American football and baseball have coaches who call the plays all the time, and even stop the game to give players advice. I don't want to play that kind of game. I want to compete against sailors where we all use our own skills and experience to do the best we can without outside help. And I certainly don't want some players paying coaches to "call the plays" for them in the pauses between races.

Thanks you Bender for making the distinction so clear.

Bender said...

Very few sailors get paid for winning races. Sailing will never be like American Football (Thank God). I think you are of the belief that Coaches determine the outcome of many sailors races. They do not. Sailing is too dynamic to simply offer (tactical) advice for the sailor to blindly follow. If you have a problem with coach boat wake etc, then those coaches should be reported and their sailor risks DSQ. If you have a problem with some inequality in the system, then pay for a coach if you seriously believe this will advance your sailing to such a level you claim other sailors are receiving. Perhaps go and ask a coach what their role in a regatta is and you will understand it is about observing the skills of the sailor so as to provide a future training direction. This is the true role of the coach. If you stumble upon a coach who just feeds information to sailors or provides a towing service, then I'm afraid they are not a "Coach".

tillerman said...

Great points Bender.

To pick up some of your arguments...

1. "If you have a problem with some inequality in the system, then pay for a coach if you seriously believe this will advance your sailing to such a level you claim other sailors are receiving."

I have no problem with people paying for coaches... at clinics and on practice days. But regattas should be an equal and fair test between sailors, none of whom are receiving extra physical support and coaching advice that is only available to a select few. To continue our baseball analogy, would it be fair if only one team was allowed first and third base coaches, and trips to the mound by the pitching coach and manager?

2. "Perhaps go and ask a coach what their role in a regatta is and you will understand it is about observing the skills of the sailor so as to provide a future training direction. This is the true role of the coach."

I agree that should be the role of a coach. But from all the comments made here and elsewhere and from the evidence of my own eyes it is clear that Mommy Boats also provide
- a towing service
- a place to rest between races
- food and drink
- a place to store spare clothing
- advice about currents and winds, including such information about the present status of current and wind at places on the course other than the starting area.

All of these services provide the sailors who have access to them with an advantage over other sailors which is, in my opinion, unfair.

If the true role of the coach is "observing the skills of the sailor so as to provide a future training direction" then perhaps the best solution is to put all the coaches on a group boat where they can "observe" and take notes, and not to allow them any contact with their students during the racing day.

Bender said...

Your last point. This is infact what does happen at Youth Worlds. All the coaches in one boat. And at the Olympics, all the coaches are boxed in behind the line to remain there during the day. These are the two highest ISAF regattas in the World........and yes, coaches operate effectively because they know their job. Again, you have been subjected to witnessing inferior quality coaching that is in effect, not what coaching is about. Now that Laser is an Olympic Class, you have to get used to the fact that there is a whole new level of professionalism. It is not what it was 15 years ago and never will be. Like it or not, coaching in the Laser class is here to stay at all levels. I recommend getting yourself a good coach for a few afternoons a week and watch yourself improve. I can guarantee it will yield far greater gains in a very short period of time. Then go to regattas and support yourself. If your sailing is competent enough, you will succeed. It will be a far less painful pathway doing this instead of seeking sailing advice on your blog - albeit it is very entertaining reading!!

Tillerman said...

Thanks Bender. As you probably know if you are a regular reader of this blog I do attend a coaching clinic about once a year where, in a group coaching class, I have received much excellent feedback on how to improve my technique from such coaches as Kurt Taulbee, Brett Davis, Rick White, Brad Funk and Javier "Rulo" Borojovich.

In my Mommy Boat rants here I hope I have never suggested that I am totally against coaching in sailing. It sure has its place and is an excellent way to improve your skills.

And I do recognize the reality of the state of coaching in the Laser class and its current "professionalism". But it's still fun to rant.

Litoralis said...

As I have said here before:

Coaching is for practice, regattas are for racing.

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