We have this report from the team (SailingIN) at the Shandong Port to Port regatta, and that I have asked Shanghai Sailor to see if there was anything that was untoward in how the team was treated. This is their report. More to follow
We were the only non Chinese team taking part in an event sailing from port to port round the Shandong Province in China a few weeks ago.
The trouble appeared to start when the night before things kicked off, our US Flag was torn from our backstay of the First 40 we had chartered from the organizers for the event.
The event was sailed in Beneteau First 40s provided by the event organisers and we were told before that the bottom of the boat would be cleaned. It wasn’t and the bottom of our boat looked like an undersea garden but when we approached the organizers/Race Committee we were told that if we attempted to clean the growth off we would forfeit our damage deposit.
This was in spite of 4 or 5 other teams diving under their boats with sub-aqua gear when there were members of the Race and Organizing Committees present on the dock. Perhaps we should have seen this as a possible warning of the quality of rulings in the future.
On the boat we were supplied with the electrics were only partially functional with water and fuel gauges not working and we had a complete electrical shut down during the first race. When the GPS came back on, it showed our position in geographic coordinates and on the plotter screen but not the time.
There was no manual for the GPS on board so were unable to alter the display to show time. This GPS unit had proven to be faulty during the event with at one point showing us heading due South at 23 knots ON DRY LAND. The coordinates on the boat GPS matched a hand held GPS we had with us. (The hand held also showed the time however.)
The Race Committee shortened the first leg for some reason. We don’t know why as we were sailing on a close to beam reach in 12-15 knots of wind. There was a virtual finish line and the sailing instructions ( which were a very poor translation) stated a photo of the GPS position and time had to be sent to the Race Committee. We used Wechat to do so.
We took a picture of the GPS with a digital camera (iPhone) and sent to the Race Committee.
The Race committee subsequently scored us DNF even though they had a photograph with us on the finish line. They then said only the time on the ship’s GPS was acceptable. So supplied equipment failed and they scored us as not finishing even though the race officer stated all boats finished.
Not happy with this so we applied for redress as we felt the race committee had acted outside the rules.
The protest committee told us they sympathized with our position but could do nothing to help.
We were then reminded by one of the crew, as well as having taken the photo of the boat’s GPS had also taken a shot using an Apple GPS App which takes photos showing time and GPS position and the photo also showed another boat in the fleet (which wasn’t scored DNF) crossing the shortened course finish line around the same time so we went back to the Protest Committee within 12 hours (the next morning ) with this fresh evidence. They told us they would re-open t the next stopover port.
When we approached the Protest Committee at the next port about the timing of the reopening they informed us that it was more than 24 hours after the hearing so we couldn’t re-open.
There was no discard so the DNF meant that, despite finishing at the front or near the front in the other races, we finished off the podium while if the first leg was properly scored we would have won overall.
These are just points that affected us rather than general points.
The organization clearly didn’t have a great deal of knowledge of how to run sailboat racing. The Sailing Instructions stated only one in port race yet at one stopover they ran three. On another day they motored well out of the marina then dropped the AP Flag and started the race just 3 minutes later leaving some boats nowhere near the start line.
In another race a competing boat was over, called over, yet not penalized. Several boats ignored the Sailing Instruction to wear life jackets at all times on the water. We protested them. Strangely within 3 hours of our protest going in the organizers/race committee cancelled the final leg and our last chance of raising our overall position to on the podium.
Several boats also ignored the Sailing Instruction to not clean the boat bottoms and were seen by Race Committee members to be doing so.
The upshot of the arbitrary DNF in Leg One meant that instead of winning the regatta we placed in 4th place. As there was prize money for the regatta you have to wonder if the race committee was just incompetent, in for a share of the money or simply racist and didn’t want a foreign team to win.
Whatever the reason we feel we were not only treated unfairly by a) the organizers by providing a boat with such a dirty bottom (we had been assured it would be cleaned before the event) and then threatening the loss of our damage deposit if we DID clean it; b) by the race committee for scoring us DNF when we provided proof of position and time and c) by the Protest Committee who didn’t properly act to provide redress for an improper action by the race committee and further didn’t allow us to re-open and present photographic evidence of our time and position.
We also would like to state that none of the above are exaggerated and are events exactly as they happened.
We certainly wont be back and feel it is almost our duty to warn future visiting crews of the sort of treatment they might receive in an event run in Shandong by a Qingdao Organizing Committee.
Title borrowed from Randy Moss.