I read The Editor’s piece about the handicap dodger with interest and it never ceases to amaze me how many people will twist and turn and even outright cheat to add to the stuff gathering dust on their mantlepiece.

Of course every time they look at it sitting there, needing its weekly or monthly polish, they know better than anyone what they did to acquire the item.

As a judge or umpire I have had to take a good number of them to book, some inadvertently breaking the rules but others doing so deliberately thinking they might get away with it.

One occasion it happened to me as a competitor; was in a local weekend regatta back in the old country. We were sailing in the white sail “Family cruiser” class. My crew was my 10-year-old daughter and it wasn’t exactly grand prix sailing – that came later for her.

The boat ahead was the one we had to beat to win the regatta and we were close enough to comfortably save our time when they ran aground, fortunately, it was light weather. However, they used their engine to extricate themselves and for good measure motor 100 yds or so down the course. 

Back in the clubhouse, I approached the owner and said I presumed they would be retiring from that race. His initial comment was “Those that live by the rules, die by the rules” but agreed he would post an RTD (RAF in modern parlance).

Sometime later, after the normal protest time limit had expired I discovered he hadn’t retired at all but was refused the right to protest, which I was later to discover was in itself wrong.

The story spread round the club like wildfire and at the prizegiving, the silence when he went to collect his ill-gotten gains was palpable except for one wag from the back who shouted out “Not bad for a f***ing motor boat.”

OK, so I got 2nd place instead of a win. My mate Big Jim got 3rd place instead of a second but it was supposed to be a fun event for the white sail guys. However, the real loser was the young woman who should have got her first-ever trophy and ended up 4th. THAT WAS WRONG.

He was subsequently ostracised and not too long after his boat was on the market. He was working on it one day Jim was walking past and stopped to look it over. The owner looked up and asked him if he was interested in buying. Jim responded with his typical acerbic wit “Not really, but I understand it has a good engine” – the penny then dropped.

Perhaps what he should have said in the clubhouse “Those who live outside the rules, ultimately die because of those rules”.