the whole truth


the whole truth

Nothing better than when the truth gets told, especially by the accused (and convicted). Here, Skip McCormack, navigator of the J/125 Double Trouble, who went from ecstasy to agony after getting a 24 hour penalty, ripping their dominant Pac Cup win right out of their grasp, for viewing the race tracker numerous times. Really, it is both an incredibly shortsighted fail on their part, and and incredibly punitive penalty from the Protest Committee. In our view, in no way does the penalty fit the crime, and this unfortunate incident should be a wake up call to all race organizers to stop pretending that the practice of viewing trackers while racing is some sort of voodoo magic. It is time to embrace the technology and information, not to ban it.

To be clear: The issue here is NOT whether accessing tracking information should be allowed in ocean racing or not. The issue is that a rule was in force. We were unaware of the rule by our own fault. We broke the rule. Period.

Anyone can call us lame, stupid, ignorant, whatever they want. It’s nothing that we haven’t already told ourselves. We feel completely gutted by these events.Just to add some final concrete details to the discussion:

Double Trouble used an Iridium 9555 sat phone.

Our modem connection runs at 9.6Kbs. (To put that speed in perspective, that’s 1/5th the speed of an old 56K modem.)

We have a Toughbook running Expedition.

We do not have the ability to browse the internet without serious use of resources and time and at no point during the race did so.

We were not unique in our equipment or access. All vessels that have email access (Required for this race) could have received the same information whether they knew it or not. Our decision to access this information was based solely on our ignorance of the prohibition against doing so.

Below is a copy of the information we received from the yellowbrick website 1-2 times per day:

1,21.41754,-157.76870,1207291100 2,21.41752,-157.76641,1207300830 3,21.41674,-157.76610,1208030400 4,21.42999,-157.78131,1207301130 5,21.41783,-157.76857,1207302200 6,21.41717,-157.76671,1208010730 7,21.41749,-157.76845,1207281700 8,21.44198,-157.78845,1207311830 9,21.41790,-157.76936,1207301930 10,24.17604,-153.81764,1208030600 11,21.41759,-157.76842,1207272230 12,21.42283,-157.77693,1207300330 13,21.41673,-157.76609,1207300530 14,32.72650,-117.21031,1208030000 15,21.41911,-157.77400,1207281900 16,21.41661,-157.76607,1207272230 17,21.41752,-157.76862,1207281530 18,21.41711,-157.76640,1207291330 19,37.98814,-122.53852,1207311604 20,21.41664,-157.76596,1208021600 21,21.41667,-157.76615,1207292130 22,21.41863,-157.77191,1207292230 23,21.46115,-157.78370,1208011030 24,21.41772,-157.76815,1207311230 25,21.41698,-157.76649,1207301900 26,21.41722,-157.76714,1207281230 27,21.41724,-157.76637,1207291430 28,21.41660,-157.76601,1208021600 29,21.41744,-157.76845,1207311830 30,21.42016,-157.77519,1207301700 32,21.41772,-157.76807,1207311630 33,21.41957,-157.77441,1207300400 34,21.41743,-157.76638,1207301100 35,21.53713,-157.60819,1208020103 36,21.41706,-157.76642,1207282300 37,21.41703,-157.76626,1207291430 38,21.41707,-157.77693,1207301420 39,21.46079,-157.81856,1207282100 40,21.42582,-157.78011,1208010400 41,21.41705,-157.76649,1207311400 42,21.41748,-157.76640,1207300900 43,21.41720,-157.76631,1207300000 44,21.41745,-157.76831,1207301800 45,21.41643,-157.76583,1208030404 46,21.43480,-157.78463,1207312130

We used this information to read the “Nightly News” to our crew and to add some color to our blog. The “Nightly News” gives a chance to discuss weather, routing, boat handling and paint a picture on the horizon of our position relative to the other boats. This creates a team spirit on the boat and includes everyone in the information that is available to the Navigator and skipper.

We broke a rule. While we believe the punishment might have been a tad harsh considering the lack of competitive advantage gained accessing 4 hour old data, we accept the penalty and move on. Comment on this post here. Title inspiration thanks to Henry Rollins.

Skip McCormack
Navigator – Double Trouble