Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bad Mommies

Those Mommy Boats are behaving badly... again!

The Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta (RMOCR) is a serious regatta. According to Gary Jobson's article in the latest issue of Sailing World, the 2011 RMOCR saw more than 700 Olympic aspirants from 53 countries. There's a lot on the line for these sailors... funding, sponsorship, qualification for other major regattas, a step on the way to earning an Olympic berth in 2012. So it's crucial that the regatta is run smoothly.

Jobson's Sailing World article reviews a number of ways in which the organizers of RMOCR strove for a level of excellence in running the regatta: everything from using smart phones to speed up the processing of results... to creating buzz with "pinnies." (Buy the magazine and check it out yourself if you don't know how to create buzz with pinnies.)

But Gary does have one suggestion for how to make RMOCR even better. From his perch 300 feet above the race course he did spot one problem. Those dratted Mommy Boats were creating havoc yet again. After the start, a group of Mommy Boat drivers (Jobson diplomatically calls them coaches) would take off to one side of the course and create waves that would "dramatically affect" the boats on that side of the course. Gary was bothered seeing how the waves from the bad Mommy Boats would cause the racing sailboats to lose distance and speed as they pitched through the waves.

I thought I would check out the Sailing Instructions (SIs) for RMOCR to see if the organizers had done anything to prevent this totally unfair and unnecessary interference with racing by these so-called coaches. Indeed they had.

The RMOCRSIs have a whole section, section 16, devoted to an attempt to police the behavior of Mommy Boats. It has 8 sub-sections and sub-section 16.3 has 6 sub-sub-sections. Wow! It covers everything from where Mommy Boats are not allowed to go... to what will happen if they are naughty and don't follow these rules. RMOCRSI 16.4 requires that Mommy Boats "that are motoring above 5 knots shall remain at least 150 metres from any boat racing." And RMOCRSI 16.7 says that the International Jury "may direct the organizing authority to revoke privileges from any boat or person found to be in breach of SI 16."

So they tried. But it clearly wasn't good enough. A swarm of Mommy Boats behaving badly still managed to mess up the races for all the boats on one side of the course.

How many more times must this happen before we ban this menace from our sport?

Related Posts
Mommy Boats
Ban Mommy Boats NOW
The Other Side of the Argument
One Hundred Mommy Boats
Mommies Gone Wild
A Wise Man Once Said


Joe said...

The simple solution: ban the craft defecated from the devil's arse.

Tillerman said...


Mojo said...

Rather than pass a lot (not alot) of wind on this important issue, Joe has stated his view with fecal brevity.

Tillerman said...

I think I like Joe better when he indulges in febrile levity.

Mojo said...

... Yes, but either is preferable to fervid longevity (of the comment, that is).

Tillerman said...

Actually, on previous posts on this particular topic we have had some fairly long, well-reasoned comments on both sides of the argument and I welcome that kind of discussion.

William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White said...

"13. Omit needless words.

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell."

"The Elements of Style"

Brass said...

You KNOW we're not going to agree on this.

Looking at the regatta website, I can't find anywhere where the Race Committee, the Protest committee, or any boat protested for a breach of the 'mommy boat' SI, or any hint that there was any rule 69 action taken in respect of such a breach.

So notwithstanding what Gary Jobson said: either:

* no coach boat broke the SI; or
* neither the Race Committee, nor the protest committee, nor any competitor thought any boat deserved to be penalised for breaking the SI.

Don't you think that if the RC writes a lengthy SI to deal with an issue, and nobody bothers to allege that anybody broke it, then maybe, just maybe, there isn't a problem?

I mean heaven forbid that people read the SI carefully and decided that protesting would be a waste of time because:

* there is no hint of what defines a 'support' boat, or a 'spectator' boat; and

* the only 'penalty' is 'withdrawal of priveleges', so even if a competitor complained it would have no effect on the results.

So maybe, just maybe, the Race Committee never meant their elaborate SI to have any actual effect at all?

Smilicus said...

ban the boats and if that does not help, make sure there is water in there fuel line so they can drift on the rocks and learn a lesson - "When school is out and racing starts, no more mommy boats, period".

Tillerman said...

Brass, you have a good point. I think we have discussed here before that SIs to control the bad behavior of Mommy Boats are currently mostly ineffective. But that doesn't mean there isn't a problem. And it's becoming recognized at the highest levels.

Back in August, one of the USA's top Laser Olympic sailors, Clay Johnson, complained about the chop on the racecourse caused by 100 Mommy Boats at the World Championships.

In December, the International Jury at Sail Melbourne complained about a dangerous incident caused by a Mommy Boat at Sail Melbourne.

And now the President of US Sailing identified an issue with Mommy Boats at the Miami OCR, and apparently has made a "suggestion" as to what to do about it.

(The details of all 3 incidents can be found in my Related Posts.)

These were all top international regattas. A competitor (not the only one I would imagine) says there's a problem. The jury says there's a problem. The President of US Sailing says there's a problem.

I'm pretty sure there is a problem.

bonnie said...

Maybe we should use that as a selling point for Sebago's annual spring regatta.

Come To Sebago, No Mommy Boats Allowed!

(If you can't put it on a dolly and walk it down a ramp, you can't launch it at our club! :D)

Tillerman said...

Bonnie, that is indeed one of the advantages of sailing in real Laser regattas at real sailing clubs (like Sebago) with other real Laser sailors.

I tend to stay away from the major national and international regattas these days simply because there are usually too many Mommy Boats. Real Laser sailors don't need Mommy Boats.

Pat said...

"How thick are the hulls on the mommy boats?" (In Texan, that would translate to, "For the course marshals, what's the smallest caliber...."), grin

Willie Crear said...

At the 1978 Flying Dutchman Worlds, there were mommy boats for every competitor. They were given instructions that if they interfered with the sailing, by just being present within the race course, that the competitor they were supporting would be DSQ for that race. I sailed in that event, and we had absolutely no problems. In one comic-opera denoument, our coach went way upwind, and waited for the fleet to start up the 3? mile beat. He fell asleep. The Race Committee saw him in the middle of the racing boats, went over, saw him fast asleep in the RIB, laughed, and left him there. He woke up, TERRIFIED that he was going to get all 6 U.S. entrants thrown out, and skedaddled off of the course. Hilarious.

Tillerman said...

Thanks for that piece of history Willie.

I am realistic enough to know that my hope of having Mommy Boats totally banned probably isn't going to be realized. But I do think it is going to need something alone the lines you suggest. If any Mommy Boat violates the rules about where they are allowed then all the competitors they are supporting should be DSQ.

Brass said...


You have the advantage of me because I cannot read Gary Jobson's article.

But if Gary Jobson is the 'highest level' and he recognises a problem, why did the RC and the competitors at this regatta act as if there wasn't a problem?

I'm pleased to hear you say that you don't really expect 'mommy boats' to be banned. As you will recall, in various posts I have made as many constructive suggestions as I can think of to tackle the various problems that there may be.

But before you can solve the problem, you have to analyse and define what the problem is.

Tillerman said...

I don't know why the RC and competitors didn't take any action on this. Maybe it wasn't clear that the bad mommies really were breaking the SIs? Does the wake from a swarm of boats create chop more than 150 yards away? Maybe the competitors were too busy sailing to take down the numbers of mommy boats 200 yards away? Maybe this problem is so common at major regattas these days that everyone just accepts it? Maybe the mommy boats were driving up one side of the course to send a message to their sailors that that was the favored side, so everyone on that side of the course was actually associated with the bad mommies? I really don't know. There's really no more information in the SW article about this observation than what I already posted.

I may not "expect" mommy boats to be banned. But I would like them to be.

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