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Posts Tagged ‘ISAF’

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ISAF’s Classification Code governs the Pro or Amateur status of every ISAF Class sailor in the world, and it’s been a huge mess for most of the new millennium.  The 2009 changes to the code eliminated the dubious “Cat 2″ category and took a small step to reducing the perceived widespread fraud and cheating rampant in classes like the Farr 40 and Melges 32, but the existing system still relies on an ‘on our honor’ database system along with a few classification czars who travel to  world and continental championships to interrogate sailors and hopefully catch the bad seeds.  Nearly everyone in grand prix sailing has seen how poorly the system works, and that fact, combined with the massive expenses involved (ISAF spends a small fortune to keep the database and application system running, and individual events have to eat the substantial costs of ISAF officials’ attendance) and the shrinking size of most every grand prix fleet needing Classification has finally gotten the ISAF Executive Committee to make a move to eliminate the Classification Code altogether.  The proposal offers to guide classes that wish to use such a system with proposed regulations, but recognizes that it’s really something that should be done by those who know the class rather than an organization that hasn’t got a clue.  

Lazy Class Administrators will hate this one, but we support it wholeheartedly because it’s the only way we’ll see a change.  And given our faith in crowdsourcing, we expect some classes to come up with innovative and creative solutions to classification that will make sense for the future of the sport.  Discuss the new proposal in the thread, and have a look at Peter Huston’s summary of ‘how we got here’ for some more background.

Go back to the mid-80′s when Dave Ullman wrote an article for Sailing World called something like “Get the pros out of sailing”.  What he said was that it was absurd that he could, as the owner of a growing sailmaker, take his loft employees with him on a MORC or PHRF race as his complete crew.  He knew it was a death march.  So, along the way SoCal PHRF created the Marine Industry Racer rule.  It worked pretty well.  Guys that worked for a loft were easily identifiable.

About the same time prize money was just starting in the US with the Ultimate and Pro Sail series.  At the time, the IOC did not allow “professionals” to compete in the Olympics.  So, USYRU set up the US Professional Sailing Association.  Essentially, it was a way to “cleanse” the prize money for people who competed in these two series.  The prize money was paid to USPSA, who then in turn gave it to that sailors campaign fund.

Then the IOC changed their pro rule, so the need to “cleanse” the prize money went away (at almost the same time both series collapsed anyway).  USYRU had in the meantime created the Group 1, 2, 3 thing.  At the time, it was by far mostly about sailmakers.  But there was no way to administer the list.

Case in point, I sailed in two events in Long Beach on successive weekends.  Same sailor in those two events was categorized as a 1 and a 3 on successive weekends.  I called Ullman the Saturday night of the second weekend when the guy was suddenly a 1.  I said “so Judge X says your guy is a Group 1 guy”.  Ullman just laughed and said “nope, he’s a 3, I sign his check every week”.  But nothing happened that weekend, and the Group 3 guy got away with it, blessed by the US Sailing Judges at that event.

It seemed we needed a database of who was a 1, 2, 3.  I went to the US Sailing AGM in Cape Cod in ’94, and started to promote this idea.  Got tons of resistance, not the least of which was from then SW publisher John Burnham, and Bob Johnstone.  We were at a post meeting party the Saturday night of the AGM at John Osmond’s house.  I sat with Burnham and Johnstone and explained what I was thinking.  Eventually, Burnham said “ok, write an article about this” and Johnstone, as he always does, listened and eventually saw the wisdom of it.  It was going to help is brand a lot, and it did – starting with the 105 class.

After the article was published, I called then US Sailing Pres Dave Irish and told him I’d raise my hand and run a new entity that was needed to get this all organized.  At the time, I was President of what was left of USPSA.  We had no real reason for being after the change of the IOC pro rules, and I was either going to find a way to create some sort of value, or close it down.  I wasn’t interested in trying to be a “sanctioning” body only, and charge events fees just because.

Irish said “dumb idea, we don’t need this list, too costly to maintain ect”.  We closed down USPSA, and I dropped the idea of a Group 2 and 3 list.

Then, as Irish is leaving office, he appoints himself as the eligibility czar, sets up the Group 2 and 3 structure and CHARGES Group 1 people $25 to have their virginity blessed.  I cringed, thankful I had nothing to do with that.  Eventually that nonsense stopped, and the list sort of worked, sort of.

But how does an event that is run in the US know anything about who was a really a sailmaker or whatever in Italy or whereever?  Impossible.

In the early “00′s, then ISAF Pres Henderson called me for all the background on how the US started the list.  I told him.  He asked me if I cared if ISAF took over the responsibility.  I had no dog in the hunt, and told him good luck.  Now we have guys in Dragon’s, Etchells, J70′s, various Melgi classes etc. paying people a couple of hundred bucks a day (or a lot more in a few cases) to pull ropes for them.

How exactly does ISAF propose to monitor who is paying who?   While the notion of this list is worthwhile, it is simply unenforceable.

Besides, it is often less expensive to pay people to sail than it is for an owner to have to appease the Group 1 guys.  As the longtime Farr 40 Class saying goes: “Best amateurs money can buy!”

ISAF and US Sailing (and probably a ton of other MNA’s) are becoming mostly just regulatory and taxing authorities.  They do not provide added value for sailors.  One of the biggest problems with the current system, and all of ISAF, is that pro sailors have almost zero voice within the organization.  The “athlete’s council” (or whatever it is called) is there only to serve Olympic sailors.

Everyone knows in which classes people get paid to sail.  The sport tends to be self-selecting.  If you want to sail in a class where people pay others to sail, everyone knows where that is.  If you don’t want that, you also know where to look.

The smart classes who want some sort of system to identify paid sailors will get together and figure it out on their own.  They are best served by keeping ISAF out of the equation.

 

September 24th, 2014 by admin

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Stradbroke_plastic_Marine_Debris_2013

UPDATE:  In response to this story and the volume of emails received by Key West Race Week organizers, Amendment No. 1 (NOR 2.4) permitting elastic or wool bands for spinnakers has been withdrawn.  Kudos to all of you who reached out to them, and for Peter Craig for doing the right thing; it’s up to all of us to make sure our own regattas follow suit.  Even if you don’t take it seriously, note that the USCG does, and just one photo of a banded kite will land you a DSQ and a good chance of a nasty fine.  Your competitors aren’t going to let you get away with it either; if their hoists are tougher because of Rule 55, yours had better be, as well.  

Key West Race Week Chairman Peter Craig last week further cemented his reputation as the most out-of-touch race officer we know, issuing a NOR amendment that directly contradicts the kind of environmental responsibility so embraced by not only ISAF, US Sailing, the America’s Cup and basic common sense, but by dozens of the sport’s newest sponsors and supporters.

We’re talking about Craig’s amendment last week of Rule 55, the prohibition against tossing trash into the water that ISAF clarified earlier this year as including sail stops – rubber bands or wools. NOR Amendment No. 1 suspends this ban, specifically allowing both “elastic and wool bands” to be discarded into the pristine, federally-controlled No Discharge Zone of the Florida Keys.

There’s been plenty of discussion of Rule 55 already, but even the most pollution-loving dickbag would agree that tossing dozens of rubber bands into some of America’s most environmentally sensitive waters ain’t the right thing to do. And biodegradable wool stops are no solution at all; maybe suitable for racing out in the ocean, but a few dozen big boats just a couple of miles offshore throwing dozens of wool stops into the sea at every mark rounding is not only nasty for the reefs; it’s against both Federal and Florida Law, with major fines and penalties.   We’ve all seen the required pollution placards on our boats, specifically telling everyone that trash doesn’t go in the water; did you really think the laws that keep you from throwing coffee grounds or orange peels into the sea somehow allow you to toss rubber bands or rope strips into the same water? And what does the USCG think about all this? Is it really possible that KWRW included this info on their Marine Event Permit?

The biggest new source of sponsorship for the sport worldwide is coming from either clean energy/green manufacturing companies or businesses looking to associate themselves with the environmentally friendly image that sailing represents. And here comes Key Waste, screwing not only the reefs, but also the hundreds of events, classes, and organizations that have worked so hard to create awareness and educate sailors and the public on being good custodians of our playground on the water.

What do you think of this policy? Should we just tell the reefs, wildlife, EPA, and USCG to harden the fuck up, or does Key West Chairman Peter Craig need to man up and tell his competitors to learn to set a kite without training wheels? You can comment here, or e-mail the organizers here.

UPDATE:  SA’er dcsheb notes that other races aren’t much better; for instance, the Sydney-Hobart similarly alters Rule 55 to allow ‘banding/tying of spinnakers’, and while open ocean distance races may cause less environmental impact than buoy races next to coral reefs, we still don’t understand how, in this day and age, anyone thinks tossing rubber bands or synthetic fiber over the side is any different than a cigarette butt or a plastic wrapper.

 

December 30th, 2013 by admin

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Well, there you have it, folks.  ISAF has shown that it knows exactly where its bread is buttered, once again selecting olympic class sailors over everyone else for the sport’s highest honor.  Out of 40 recipients of the award since its inception, this marks the 25th and 26th time that Olympic class dinghy sailors have won.  This year’s pick:  I-470 helm Mat Belcher and I-470 helm and crew “Jolly” as its male and female ‘World Sailors of the Year’.  That’s the same ISAF that, without funding from the International Olympic Committee and IOC partners,  would consist of three old guys in an office wearing blue blazers and nice watches.

Neither of the teams selected for the award won an Olympics during the qualification period, because there was no Olympics.  So what, exactly, did they do?  They won their respective dinghy class Worlds in 2013, along with some other ISAF-pimped events that no one in the world – except for 470 sailors and their families – cares about, or will ever care about.  Yes, they are great sailors, the best in the world in their classes.  But the World Sailors of the Year?  Gimmeafuckingbreak.

Hey, at least ISAF is consistent. Consistent in their ability to screw up anything they touch.

New name suggestion for next year’s award?  The 2014 ISAF WORLD SAILOR OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE®.

Comment here.

 

November 12th, 2013 by admin

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Mad Men

It doesn’t matter how lazy, nepotistic, incompetent, or corrupt you think ISAF is; its World Sailor Of The Year award is still the biggest honor that can be bestowed upon a sailor for his or her performance over the course of a year.  So it’s kind of a big deal (even though you win some shitty mid-range watch as an award).  The public nominated the slate of potential awardees, but of course the only voting happens at this week’s ISAF meeting in the bastion of yachting that is Muscat, Oman.

We think it would be a miscarriage of justice if anyone besides Paul Larsen wins the men’s award this year.  To so utterly destroy the most important record in the sport (by 20%!), and then go on to sail a recreation of Shackleton’s voyage weeks later, is just incredible.  Adding to all that is Larsen’s undeniable stature as one of sailing’s best communicators and cheerleaders; he does more for the sport every time he gets in front of a news camera (and it happens a lot) than any other talking head.

Francois Gabard’s accomplishment winning the Vendee at age 29 could have landed him the award, but ISAF delegates don’t like the French; you’ll note that no French man has ever won.  Besides, he’ll get one when he breaks Francis Joyon’s solo RTW record with his new boat in a couple of years.  As for the rest of them, Heineken’s accomplishments are awesome, but in a discipline that’s in its infancy with extremely inconsistent competition.  Williams wins the WMRT in a year when much of his best competition is racing catamarans.   And Matt Belcher had some kind of good results in something called a 470, whatever that is.  Go Larso!

Pro-Choice

For the women, the choice is even easier; Deneen Demourkas dominated the Farr 30 Worlds, becoming the first 3-time World Champion in the class, beating some of the world’s top male owner/drivers and tacticians in the process.  She also brought the class back from the brink of disaster, leading it to new growth in the US as well as Southern Europe and Scandinavia.

Competing with Deneen for the award is a Omani girl whose sole accomplishment seems to be that she is female and a sailor (quite an accomplishment in arabia, but still), another course-racing kiteboarder (same family name as Johnny, same reason she shouldn’t win), and a couple of girls that got some kind of good results in something called a 470, whatever that is.

So there you have it:  The two sailors that should, without a doubt, win this year’s mid-range luxo-watch.

And all joking aside, every one of these nominated sailors wins our respect.

 

November 12th, 2013 by admin

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