cheese with whine
SNG Vice Commodore Fred Meyer has issued an “Open letter”, below, regarding the “launching” of Race two of the 33rd America’s Cup. Mostly it says the waves were too high (too high for what?) and there were a lot of spectator boats in the way, so Alinghi couldn’t really get a good start. Oh, and load alarms were going off on both boats. They were going to run out of daylight. They sky was falling too. So, the three members of the SNG Race Committee expressed their opinion to Harold Bennett and went below and pouted.
What isn’t said is how the SNG Race Committee came to these conclusions. Was there a phone call from Alinghi to the SNG Race Committee boat saying that they didn’t want to race?
Harold Bennett doesn’t need to file a report now with ISAF. SNG Vice Commodore Fred Meyer did that for him. Now, is ISAF President Petersson going to actually have something to say about this? Or is the behavior of SNG’s Race Committee on the world stage no big deal to the sport? We know you have an opinion on this…
Open letter from Société Nautique de Genève vice commodore
25 February 2010
Following recent declarations in the media by Harold Bennett, the Principal Race
Officer (PRO) for the 33rd America’s Cup Match, we feel obliged to clarify the
situation on board the Race Committee boat before the start of Race 2.
SNG as Organising Authority appointed Fred Meyer, Nicolas Grange and Marcel
Beauverd to be the Race Committee for the 33rd America’s Cup. Harold Bennett was
appointed by ISAF – in agreement with SNG – as PRO. As such, he became the
fourth member of the Race Committee.
Under ISAF racing rules of sailing (RRS), the Race Committee conducts the race and
makes all decisions relating to it, such as designating the course to be sailed, setting
the start line, starting or abandoning the race. The PRO has no specific prerogative
and has to operate the race as decided by the Race Committee.
On Sunday 14 February, the wind for most of the day was shifty and uncertain. The
sea state was not good as the waves to the North were still above 1m. At 16:00, the
wind was gradually establishing from the East but was also dying out and the sea
state was still not satisfactory.
At this moment, spectator boats were still in the middle of the start area and there
was clearly not enough time to clear the area and launch the race in good conditions.
There was a risk of finishing the race after sunset.
The three SNG Race Committee members expressed their opinion to Harold Bennett
explaining that the race should not be launched for the following reasons: • The starting area was not clear of spectator boats • The sea state was improper (the waves were too high) • The certainty of racing during day light hours (the last possible warning signal
as per the Notice of Race was 16:30) was being jeopardised putting at risk the
security of the race yachts and spectator boats. Acting against the opinion of the Race Committee, Harold Bennett unilaterally
launched the race. Rather than enforcing the Race Committee decision by physical
means, the SNG Race Committee members decided to withdraw and wait below
Launching the race in improper conditions resulted in (i) Alinghi being penalised
before the start because it was disturbed by spectator vessels while making its way
toward the starting line (ii) the Race Committee boat starboard lay line being
impracticable for both racing yachts because of the presence of spectator vessels on
the lay line and (iii) high load alarms on both boats sounding continuously during the
first leg on starboard because of the sea state.
Fortunately no accidents occurred that day and neither of the boats was damaged.
The three SNG Race Committee members however maintain that it was
unreasonable, unnecessary and improper to launch the race at that moment. From a
rules point of view, it is not even clear whether there was truly a race or not on that