the weather at this year’s European Championship made things difficult for everyone involved. Tough decisions had to be made quickly which affected everyone. There was a lot of pressure put on the PRO and the Commodore to change the results of the regatta. Weeks after the event there had been time to review our decisions and correct some of our mistakes. It is important to set the precedent for proper procedures so that the same mistakes are not made in the future.
While driving home from Tartu, I had doubts about how things turned out. I decided to seek help from the (EIA) European Iceboat Authority, in the form of an appeal, to see if they could give us the answer. The result of the EIA appeal was no result. The EIA refused to hear my appeal because they only rule on protest decisions. Since there had been no protest the EIA cannot make a ruling.
Here are the facts regarding A-Fleet race 5:
The majority of the sailors (approximately 80%) sailed all three laps correctly, even with the big wind shift. These sailors found the Darling Mark, some at the last moment, and still rounded correctly. The other 20% who sailed the course wrong were lucky, because the PRC was not ready to take notes on the first rounding, or the congestion was too high at the weather mark to see the sail numbers. On the second lap only 10% of the sailors missed the Darling Mark and 5 sailors received a DSQ. Of the 5 sailors who received a DSQ none filed a protest. Let’s look at this from a perspective of an “early start” in soft water sailing. Sometimes the Race Committee cannot see all of the sail numbers because of overlapping sails. Even the PRC can make mistakes.
How many times have you started on the side of the starting line where the wind just died. It is bad luck but racing continues. Winners are chosen by the sailors who can overcome bad luck and have consistent enough results to win. In sailing there is always a certain amount of luck involved. That is part of what makes it so much fun.
A-Fleet sailors know they must round the Darling Marks and must be able to find them even if there is a wind shift. All the sailors faced the same challenging situation. We all make mistakes when we are trying as hard as we can to win a race. If you make a mistake and no one sees it, a good sport would withdraw from the race.
Now some facts regarding our rules:
The rules that were developed by the North American National Iceboat Authority more than 75 years ago are still working well.
If a rule is broken a sailor can be disqualified by the Race Committee or after a successful protest by any sailor. If you think your protest was handled incorrectly by the Protest Committee you can appeal to the EIA. If you think a rule needs to be changed there are legal ways to apply for a change.
Currently we have no rules that allow the Commodore, nor anyone else to overrule whether a race should count. The only way to throw out a race is by the Race Committee or after a successful protest against the Race Committee where it is proven that the Race Committee violated a rule. According to the National Iceboat Authority, under part II Management of Races H – 2 the Race Committee may cancel or abandon a race after the start if a mark is shifted or the course for any reason becomes unsafe. This was not the case in A Fleet Race 5. If we allow the Commodore to throw a race out even with a vote by the National Secretaries present it sets a bad example going into the future. Future Commodores would face similar situations more and more, and the work of all of those who are applying the rules correctly like the PRC, Protest Committee and perhaps the EIA would be undermined. We must keep the responsibilities of the European Board, the PRC, the Protest Committee and the EIA well defined and separate so we don’t step on each other’s toes. It would not feel good to have a victory based on a false illegal decision. It would be a tainted victory.
Fellow Ice Boaters,
there is no rule that allowed me to throw A-fleet race 5 or any other out. I regret my decision and apologize to all involved. In the name of all who believe in the fair sportsmanship and in our class today, I cannot in good conscience allow my decision to stand. There is no excuse. I take the full responsibility.
My decision had no legal bases and must be reversed immediately.
A-Fleet Race is reinstated.
PRC will prepare a new result list and publish it as soon as possible.
Some trophies will have to be switched.
If the class wants me to retire my position I will do so at the European Secretaries Meeting.
In April the National Secretaries will gather for their annual meeting in Stockholm. The board will focus on competencies and decisions that were made by the Commodore, European Executive Committee, PRC, Protest Committee, and EIA. Lessons learned will take a lot of time at this year’s meeting. Decisions will be made to try to keep problems from arising in the future. No one is perfect and mistakes can happen, but rest assured we are all trying to make decisions that will keep our sport fair, safe and fun for the future. If there needs to be a changing of the guard (including my position) it will happen at the meeting and you all will be informed shortly after.
Everyone needs to remember that not all regattas go smoothly, but with all the hard work from the volunteers, most do. We are not doing this as professionals. Iceboating is supposed to be fun for all of us. A good friend of mine always says Ice Boating is 50% social. We have to remember that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. I suggest we look forward to the bright future of our great sport, and to many more days chasing the ice with good friends.
See you on the ice at the 2016 Gold Cup World Championships somewhere in Europe, perhaps with the first Chinese participants.
Joerg Bohn G-737