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optigate

With the Sec General of the IODA demanding answers and more facts coming to light over the Opti dodge ‘em in Lake Garda, we were glad to see Brontolo skipper Filippo Pacinotti issue a public apology last night for his actions on the lake.  An unapologetic Marco De Antonio from Bribon gives a more defensive take on it and bitches about “an American blog” here.  But most laudable is the no-nonsense statement from Melges and the M32 Class.  From Class Prez Hank Stuart to the IODA and the world:

Thank you for your note expressing deep concern over the incident on Lake Garda this past weekend. Rest assure that the International Melges 32 Class Association (IM32CA) was equally upset by the video footage of the two Melges 32s racing through the Opti fleet on Saturday afternoon.

Needless to say, this footage has prompted us to proactively investigate further the actions of many including, but not limited to the Yacht Clubs (Circolo Vela Torbole and Fraglia Vela Riva), both event PROs, the members of the International Jury as well as all Melges 32 teams present.

Our findings thus far have revealed unfortunate circumstances in which were truly beyond our control. For example, despite our numerous complaints that specifically addressed safety if the race courses overlapped was completely ignored on multiple occasions. Additional concerns were also voiced by many of our owners as well as sponsor representatives, and they too were disregarded as unimportant.

Looking to the incident, the two teams highlighted in the video chose to navigate, what we now know was a dangerous path to the leeward gate. This combined with what we perceive as poor decision making in regards to where races were ran was where we have found the problem to be.

We realize that a higher level of situational awareness and a more conservative approach should have been exercised by several of the Melges 32 teams, honoring and giving right of way considering the breezy conditions. Do know that many of the competing teams did just that.

Since the incident, please know that both teams featured in the video have already, very sincerely issued public apologies regarding their actions on Facebook and through other media sources. We believe this is a step in the right direction on their part. The IM32CA is also reviewing internally what other measures may be taken to further correct the situation and prevent it from ever happening again.

We will be publishing their apologies along with this letter online at melges32.com.

You also mentioned that there were Melges 32 owners or crew that possibly spoke in disrespect to some of the young Opti sailors. Please know through our process to get to the bottom of just what exactly happened, we have not heard anything regarding this at all. Considering the caliber and league of sailor commonly found on a Melges 32, such behavior is highly unacceptable.

As we move forward, we hope that we can work with you collectively in resolving this matter peacefully and respectfully. All of our owners are regular contributors to youth foundations and sailing programs, and we know how important it is to emphasize the value of youth sailing and support the future of our sport. This is something that we hold with the highest regard.

We agree that best next step for our classʼ is to file a joint report to ISAF in accordance with rule 69.3 to see if any Melges 32 team breached rule 69.1(a) and that under The Racing Rules of Sailing, ISAF has the ability and authority to review this matter properly.

Kind regards,
Hank Stuart, President
International Melges 32 Class Association (IM32CA)

July 16th, 2013

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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.