it gets worser and worser

It just gets better and better. Or should that read worse and worse? The Royal Malta Yacht Club has issued a statement, what we have labeled as “Their Excuse”. So lets look what they are saying followed by comments from a different source.

They state that entering the harbour would be “extremely hazardous.” Here is a link to a competitor making the “extremely hazardous” entering into the harbour after racing.

Extremely hazardous? You tell me!

Besides we have now heard from three independent and reliable sources (and there is a slight variation) that a) most of the alternative finishers entered the harbour anyway b) all but one entered the harbour and c) one yacht went to the west of the island where they were berthed in any case but they all say the same thing – the majority of the alternative finishes experienced the same conditions entering the harbour that they would have had if the race had not been shortened.

A number of points of interest. Didn’t the Race Committee realise that most alternative finishers would be entering the harbour  in any case? Surely they had access to the entry list and would know where most of the boats were from? 

So what’s the difference? Well instead of entering the harbour in a Royal Malta Yacht Club race they would be entering by their own volition so letting the RMYC off the hook a bit if anything went wrong.

To enter the race the competing yachts had to satisfy the Offshore Special Regulations Category 2 so unless a) the safety levels were not stringent enough (unlikely as even the Fastnet is a Cat 2 event)  or b) the scrutineering before the start was suspect. Boats prepared to Cat 2 levels should have been able to withstand the conditions on the racecourse including the harbour entry. Add to that the Maltese Weather Centre hadn’t gone above ‘orange’ in their weather warnings.

In their statement, they go on to say “The decision was not influenced by the possibility that other boats, safe in the harbour, might find their result materially affected”. Why defend an accusation that had not been publicly made. That in itself is a telling statement. Perhaps some intra-club grumblings?

They then admit their Sis were not up to puff and “seriously impacted the race results” compounded within so many words with “we won’t do it again”. The whole of that next paragraph is basically admitting the Sis were not good enough – doesn’t that imply (at the very least) ‘improper action or omission by the race committee? 

The last paragraph could almost be humorous if you had a warped sense of humour that the club will “continue to apply all rules fairly and correctly to all those who participate”. Shouldn’t that also mean RRS 32? 

Then add to that the International Jury’s seemingly poor understanding of Rule 32 and of course the English language.

In fact Jury Chairman, International Judge Gordon Stredwick and as RYA Racing Rules Manager might perhaps have read in his own MNA Case Book, Case RYA 1996/4. Although the case was a redress request for another matter in the “Summary of Facts” it states “Class 1 could not be shortened at that mark because Stampede had already rounded it”. 

It would be interesting to hear their reasoning why a reduction in course length is not shortening and why reducing the course for an alternative finish line after a boat has finished is permitted under RRS32 . 

In the IJ’s Case 6 under FACTS FOUND they write “In accordance with SI 11.3, the race committee invokes the course with the alternative finishing line without using RRS 32.” I would love to hear their justification for ignoring a World Sailing Racing Rules of Sailing rule. 

No one is above the rules! So what of that ‘alternative’ source?

We received an email from an ‘insider’. Our verification research shows better than 95% he is a RMYC member or at least someone with intimate knowledge of some of the goings-on inside the club.

He stated that a prominent member associated with the race pressured the Race Committee to move to the alternative finish line making the excuse the original line was not safe. “This was not the case because all boats bar one crossed the original finish line. There was no need to change the finish line. The weather was bad, but contestants saw worse. This was all bullshit” Their words not ours.

They went on to say  “It is a well known fact that Mr ******* wanted a big boat to finish first for his own selfish glory reasons. It is also a well known fact that he wanted a particular Maltese boat to place in class. Both these events happened.”

I am not saying the move to the alternative line was for this reason but they did have 24 hours + to play around with permutations before signalling the shortened course.

Whatever the real reasons things were done wrong it is important to NOT throw the baby out with the bathwater. Certain individuals made errors and/or decisions that were not right. However it is clear from the communication we have received that there are members within the Royal Malta Yacht Club that are not happy with what was done. Whether that is for personal reasons, moral reasons or whatever, it is not our place to judge. They felt strongly enough to contact a media that might actually make their views known instead of the ‘aren’t we great’ type press releases. The actions of the International Jury are not appealable however World Sailing does have mechanisms if competitors are unhappy with the actions of officials including disregarding rules.

Similarly Rolex, as title sponsor, writes the cheques and provide very nice prizes for winners. No criticism is implied about their support of this race or indeed their wider wonderful and gratefully received the support of the sport of sailing which I would hope continues, including for the Royal Malta’s Middle Sea Race.

This was the 43rd edition of one of the world’s respected 600 milers and the first time I can recall such controversy being caused. There is little doubt they will learn from this and that for the 44th edition (2022) extra care will be taken to ensure that there is nothing even approaching a repeat of what happened in 2021. 

– SS