if it quacks like a duck…

I refer to Blue Robinson a writer for Seahorse Magazine, piece on the Front Page dated 4th of January and interestingly titled j’accuse.

The term j’accuse stems from an open letter of the same title from the writer Émile Zola addressed to the President of France, published in the late 19th Century. His letter published in the French newspaper L’Aurore, condemned the irregularities of the trial of a Alfred Dreyfus in a time of great political upheaval in France. The term since adopted is “a public denunciation of a miscarriage of justice”

So Blue indulge me here while I try and join up your dots from January 1898 in France, or 120 years ago and the 2018 Sydney to Hobart Race.

Today = A period known as the Third French Republic in the 19th and 20th century where re-establishing the monarchy was very confusing. My guess is you see this difficult period as akin to the last three outings pre 2018 where WOXI was denied the throne?

Blue Robinson = Émile Zola. Influential French writer and a major figure in the political liberalization of France.

Sailing Anarchy = L’Aurore.  A French liberal and socialist newspaper published up to 1916.

SA Ed/Scooter = Georges Clemenceau. Publisher of L’Aurore who later became the Prime Minister of France during the First World War.

Online Chatterati (SA Forum) = French Army’s counter-intelligence section from 1894.

Captain Mark Richards =  Captain Alfred Dreyfus. French artillery officer of Jewish decent wrongly accused by the Army of communicating French military secrets to the Germans.

Now Émile, sorry Blue, unless you are hiding a couple of Nobel Prize for Literature nominations up your sleave like Émile or you guarantee Scooter is next in line to take over from the Trump guy or anyone honestly believes a SA Forum is a centre of intelligence, I’m really struggling with your correlation to  j’accuse. However as both Richards and Dreyfus were Captains I will let that mismatch slip.

So the thrust of your article being and I quote; “To consider otherwise, means you are calling these guys cheats – and in this free world you can pretty much call anybody anything, but that accusation means all the crew and the owners.” As the question of cheating has not been raised in either the sailing world or main stream press, I can only assume referring to the Online Chatterati  like here.

There are some 2,000 posts there and over 40,000 views in just over a week since the Race Committee protested on Saturday 29 December. However I challenge you to find more than a handful of idiots amongst that who have suggested WOXI cheated or levelled any such claim against the crew. You have interpreted enquiry and interest to somehow equate to condemnation. You are way off mark. You complain of any accusation to mean all the crew and the owners are captured. Interestingly I don’t recall of any complaint about the same crew and same owner leaving every one of the view that the 2017 result was somehow unfair to WOXI for 12 months and last Monday, when Mark Richards admitted they “cocked it up” and had no quarrel with the International Jury’s decision awarding the race to Commanche. A few things you should note.

Your own editor of Seahorse put pen to paper recently indicating the issue of cheating in sailing. You make no mention of the fact that this bonfire has started because of a fellow competitor electing to have a media bleat, but not protesting about a race safety requirement. You make no mention of the Racing Rules of Sailing and Protest by the Race Committee as submitted left an International Jury with no option but to deem it invalid and left the subject untested. In other words in a “self-policing” sport it is not really “self” as the only people who can police it are other competitors, even though they may out of sight over the horizon. We all remember similar circumstances with Lawrie Smith on Rothmans in this same race, stripped of Line Honours by a Race Committee protest, not one from a competitor. What has changed?

You make no mention that the Skipper of WOXI has put out a barrage of conflicting public statements between finishing on the Friday morning of the 28th and Monday 31st December that only adds fuel to the fire. The latter via Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz quotes Mark Richards as criticising the Race Committee for including the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmission as being mandatory for this race, the Race Committee for protesting and is now seeking an apology from the Race Committee; “We think the Race Committee should make a public apology to us. We have been accused of something which simply never happened’, says a still irate Richards.

So Blue you think this is all an injustice and deserved of public denunciation? However in light of the above some may think you are making old  Émile roll in his grave by borrowing his title j’accuse. Some may say you have traded your journalists independence to gain access and are writing PR fluff pieces.

I’m not sure, but I know one thing, Captain Mark Richards and Captain Alfred Dreyfus have nothing in common except the Captain bit.

The Sparrow