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Rules Observance

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Brass View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Brass Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Rules Observance
    Posted: 22 Sep 17 at 12:50am

What can you do if it seems that there are some of your competitors who donít have a very high regard for sportsmanship and fair play, and are breaking rules?

What if his seems to be concentrated around certain specific parents or coaches?

Here are some preliminary things I suggest, before going too much further:

1.    Validate your opinion, make sure that itís not you that are the one out of step:  ask around among other competitors and see if others share your views, if so identify people who may be willing to cooperated in tackling the problem;

2.    Have a think about whether you are racing in an environment that encourages rules observance:

         When was the last time the club held a rules session?

         Do club training and coaching programs emphasise requirements of sportsmanship and fair play (and not actually teach rule-breaking, such as illegal propulsion)?

         Is there a healthy level of the protest process (hailing Ďprotestí, on-water penalties, prompt and effective protest hearings) in operation, or is there a Ďno protestí culture in place?

         Has the club implemented the graduated alternatives to full protest process in the RRS Appendix T or RYA Rules Disputes Guidelines (Advisory Hearings, Post Race/Exoneration Penalty, Arbitration)?

3.    Be mindful that you donít seriously disrupt club harmony:  if you propose changes, you need to bring as many people as possible along with you.

4.    Donít start yelling ĎCheats!í and getting out the pitchforks and torches.  Donít be too quick to reach for rule 2 or rule 69.  In my opinion, steady consistent enforcement (by the protest process) of the normal racing rules will bring most people around, even if they donít initially hold the rules in high regard.  Saying 'Everyone can afford to improve their rules compliance' is a lot pleasanter than saying 'You, you and you need to improve your rules compliance'.

Here are two articles by Dick Rose that may be helpful 

Whoís had successful experience in dealing with this sort of problem?

What works well and what doesnít?

Edited by Brass - 22 Sep 17 at 7:55am
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sargesail View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote sargesail Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 17 at 1:08pm

Some really interesting food for thought there.  I like the two Dick Rose articles you cite too.  Last weekend saw a version of one of his suggestions used, with a large proportion of the fleet yelling, 'do your turns' at a persistent offendor.  It will be interesting to see if it has made any difference to behaviour this weekend.  I'll let you know.

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davidyacht View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote davidyacht Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 17 at 2:41pm
As I see it, most of the unresolved rule infractions I see relate to; crashing in on port at the windward mark in front of starboard tackers; dubious calls for room at the leeward mark, often kinetically assisted and kinetics.  Most of the other stuff is simple port and starboard and windward leeward which most of us can understand and manage.  

Generally offenders get away with it because at the pressure points on the course you simply have too much going on in your boat to worry about others, and frankly the red mist is counter productive to the big picture.

The reaching finish from a leeward mark, that seems to be derigeur puts a huge pressure on pumpers, rockers and oochers to do their stuff to secure inside berth at the leeward mark ... this might work at the Olympics with 25 boats and lots of umpire boats, but is not a lot of fun in a big fleet if you are trying to be legal, when those around you are not.  This is probably why I will not attend any more championships.

Perhaps scaling the length of legs to the size of the fleet should be considered, even if this means longer races. 

Umpire boats have a big impact for the good, and it is interesting how some front runners disappear into mediocrity if an Umpire boat is on the course.

Racing in flights might also result in better rule observance and hence greater enjoyment.

Another aspect is that there are sailors who think that anything is fair game unless they hear the word "Protest", in a club fleet you get to know who they are, at a championship it may be less easy.

Our club fleet had a bit of a Rule 42 problem, particularly going through light patches in the wind, the giveaway being standing up in the boat; peer pressure has done a lot to reduce this; I think that we took whistles out on the water and blew them when we saw an infraction.  

Also we got a rules guru to come down and talk to the club, although the worse offenders never turned up to the talk.

Somewhere between lies and truth lies the truth
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ohFFsake View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ohFFsake Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Yesterday at 10:50pm
Brass, as ever, seems to have most of the good ideas covered!

We had a load of trouble with this a few years ago with some members of the junior fleet at my club at the time. Aside from agreeing with the points made so far, I can perhaps contrast this advice with some observations about what doesn't work...

Beware the passive/aggressive approach! When people routinely break the rules don't just ignore it and hope it goes away, whilst inwardly seething. It just gets worse until it reaches a point when you kind of have to do something about it, at which point you are now trying to address a big problem rather than a small one.

In our case it all got brushed under the carpet due to a well intentioned desire not to fall out with everyone, until the rule breaking escalated to a point something had to be done. So the club had its first protest meeting for about 20 years which was handled badly and turned into a farce.

So all that achieved was to reinforce the belief that "anything goes" and if anything it got worse. For us the situation never really improved and was one reason why we switched clubs.

So yes, in hindsight I would suggest a more successful approach would be to try and nip things in the bud by small interventions whenever there is a problem; try to encourage peer pressure to lean on the habitual rule breakers so as to engender a culture where it isn't considered cool to break the rules, and go down the arbitration route as a less confrontational way of dealing with potential protests.

We did consider jury boats but I think it would have been a bad move. Club racing really should be self policing.
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Sam.Spoons View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Sam.Spoons Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Yesterday at 11:58pm
It can be very hard to manage, I grew up doing turns (well, actually retiring, t'was before 'turns' were invented) if I hit an mark or failed to cross someone when on port tack etc, but I also grew up in the era of unlimited luffing etc. I also grew up in a club where rule observance was just the done thing (but so was doing duties as allocated so we only ended up doing a couple a year). It's different now and, after 30 years racing Raceboards and Div 1 I'm well aware that certain sections of the racing community treat the rules as something to ignore if nobody is watching and to try to get away with otherwise. When I first started racing Div 1 sailboards I used to re-round a mark if I touched it, even if nobody saw me, I was the only one who did and it was a long time before I could reconcile myself to levelling the playing field and stop doing that (then they changed the rules and allowed Raceboards t touch marks......). I always did (and still do) encourage the mindset that if you break a rule and go on to win you haven't really won..... I'm now, effectively, a newb racer at a club I was a member of 50 years ago and am back to re-rounding if I touch a mark (it just wouldn't feel right if I didn't).....

Edited by Sam.Spoons - Today at 9:06am
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GML View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Quote GML Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Today at 9:09am
Sam, the penalty for touching a mark is a one-turn penalty (a '360' as some would call it). You don't have to go around the mark again (and you are required to keep clear of other boats while taking your penalty, so doing your penalty around the mark is probably a bad idea).
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H2 View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Quote H2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Today at 10:15am
I grew up in large competitive fleets as part of the RYA youth development squads 25 years back and observing the rules was drummed into us. Now I sail on a small pond and in general rules seem to be quite well observed by most but there are some interesting dynamics that I have observed sailing in the handicap fleet or around 30 boats that regularly race. The Flying 15s seem to have their own rules...a common instance is that they pile into the windward mark on port and tack under the starboard boats using momentum to squeeze around the mark whilst head to wind. People seem to just accept this and luff a little as they know if they do not they will get a whack. Often the 15 then also hits the windward mark but no one does anything. Infringements between the 15s whilst in the handicap fleet also result in no action even if the rest of us yell at them.

I am fairly new at the club - well actually been there a few years but sailed at the back of the fleet with one of my kids as crew for fun but recently bought a singlehander and have surprised people that when I want too I can win races (am leading the Frostbite series currently). I do not want to rock too many boats as people are just coming to terms with me being a competitor and realising I do know my stuff but at the same time I would love advice on how to address these issues!

Edited by H2 - Today at 10:16am
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