Coaches- why it makes laser racing less fair

Discussion in 'Laser Class Politics' started by OliLaser, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. OliLaser

    OliLaser Guest

    A boat which is RACING shall not receive help from any outside source.
    If a coach holds your lunch, water or spare equipment while you race your cheating.
    Spend more money and get a coach and you can take spare parts out and a lunch. This is fair how?
     
  2. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    I think before and after a race you aren't considered racing. You can get anything you want in between races just not while you are racing.

    Another example of the difference is that a boat not racing may not interfere with a boat racing (so when a boat finishes a race it cannot interfere with a boat that is still racing).
     
  3. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Of course it's not fair.

    But Rule 41 Outside Help only applies to boats that are racing and that is usually interpreted to mean that you cannot receive any information or physical assistance from a coach boat after the prep signal and before you finish. At any other time it's OK.

    But you raise an interesting point: Is the mere act of "holding" food, drink, spare parts, spare clothing etc. while a sailor is racing in itself a kind of outside help? After all, if the coach weren't holding that stuff the sailor would have to carry it himself on his boat. The fact that the sailor is not carrying all that extra weight must be of some help to him in the race. I think you could make a strong argument that if a coach carries stuff for a boat which is racing then that is "outside help" and the boat infringes Rule 41.

    I don't know if there's ever been a ruling of any kind on that idea. Best think is to file a protest the next time you are racing if you see a coach boat holding stuff for another boat while it is racing. If the local protest committee rule against you, then appeal it to the highest level. If you win it will be a major achievement for fair play and a level playing field in our sport.

    Good luck!
     
  4. sailjacks

    sailjacks Member

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    There are a lot of reasons why having a personal coach on the water is unfair, and having them hold gear is not the biggest one.

    First and foremost is that coaches have the potential to give sailors a big tactical advantage by feeding them information about the races that a competitor cannot see. Having someone describe the race to you from an outside perspective is always a helpful insight, especially when conditions are challenging.

    The other thing that on-the-water coaches do is create disruptive wake in the racing area (there's no way around it). Having those boats on the water is something that everyone has to deal with, but is something only few get any benefit from.

    There are two ways to handle coaching fairly: the college method or the "fleet coach" method. With college sailing, everyone has equal access to coaches who all view the race from the same vantage point and can give out advice, water, and food. At some regattas, such as the US Sailing Jr. Ladder events, a "fleet coach" is supplied who is on the water for all sailors to utilize and who carries food, water, gear etc. These are both "fair" arrangements, though not always possible.

    But significance-wise, coaching pales in comparison to technique, tactics, and fitness.
     
  5. AlanD

    AlanD Former ISAF Laser Measurer

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    Another aspect not yet mentioned is that often the coach boats tow their boats to and from the course area. Not much of an issue when the distance is only short, but at some regattas it can be more than an hours sail. Over a 6 or 7 day regatta, this can impact on the fatigue levels experienced between the haves and have nots.
     
  6. Sailorchick

    Sailorchick Member

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    I definitely experienced that in Largs (2010 worlds). I think there were only 3 women (myself included) there without coaches so we had to launch first to try and get as close to the race course as possible and were still praying for the Sailing Clubs ribs to come and get you once they had laid marks etc to ensure you made the start. At coaches briefings they were told to tow anyone but of course they don't. This also meant the 3 of us without coaches were last in everyday. Not sure if the coaches on the mens course were any more helpful as a larger proportion of the fleet did not have their own coach/support boat.
    You get this at Weymouth for pretty much any event too as if you are racing in the bay its a long old sail out there/back home!
     
  7. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    Mid's East last year there was little or no wind on the way out and I was one of the first ones off the beach. Myself and a few others didn't get a tow and were late to the initial start. Luckily they postponed the start but I know I could have filed for redress if they started.
     
  8. oztayls

    oztayls Member

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    I think you've raised a fair point Oli. Holding spare gear, clothing, food and gathering intelligence are not exceptions, so if I were called onto a protest committee to adjudicate on this, I would take some convincing that this not receiving help from an outside source while racing. As such, I think I would have to rule that Rule 41 has been infringed.

    The problem is that when a practice goes unchallenged by the whole international sailing community for decades, does it become so acceptable that to disqualify a sailor for it would in itself be grossly unfair? This is likely why such a protest would eventually be overturned, and dealt with by making a rule change.
     
  9. alat

    alat New Member

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    Shouldn't the rule be changed so there are no coaches allowed on the water near the sailing course while racing is going on? For all ILCA sanction competition that should be the rule and we should all endorsed that type of change
     
  10. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Many regattas have a rule in the SIs that prohibit coach boats from being on or near the race course while boats are racing. But it is frequently ignored and usually there are no meaningful sanctions applied to the coaches infringing the rule or the competitors whom they are supporting. In any case just keeping the coach boats away while boats are racing still allows them to zoom in en masse between races and help their sailors.

    What is really needed is a rule saying that a boat cannot receive any outside assistance from private support boats once it has left the dock for the day until after the finish of the last race of the day (as well as a rule keeping spectator boats at a reasonable distance from the race course.)
     
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  11. alat

    alat New Member

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    You took the words out of my mouth, because that is exactly what I meant. When we started sailing
    Lasers in Canada, where the boat was born, with no fancy rigging nor Harken equipment, it was a bunch of guys going on our own to race with either rabbit starts or us taking turns at being the committee boat . There were no coaches and the spars and sails all done by the same manufacturer. Most changes to this simple and skillful way of racing started the day the boat became an Olympic class. We should reverse back a little bit to the true sportsmanship that existed when the Laser was a true one design with everything the same, excepting the person at the tiller, and your brain being the only edge on the water.
     
  12. Eric_R

    Eric_R D10 Secretary

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    US Sailing events have that rule. Once you left the beach there was no coaching until protest time was over. The fleets were a tad smaller than say a large National regatta though.

    I doubt with larger fleets it will happen. While they are there to coach, they also double as a great big fleet of safety boats should something hit the fan.
     
  13. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Even better. No contact with coaches from the time you leave the dock until protest time is over.

    I don't buy the argument that we have to allow coach boats because they double as safety boats. We manage to run huge regattas like the Masters Worlds (with 350-400 Lasers on the water at once if I'm not mistaken) with hardly any coach boats.
     
  14. rmraya

    rmraya New Member

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    About three weekends ago, I participated in a multi-class race. My three kids were racing their Optimists and I asked their coach to carry my water bottle. After race one, wind started to shift and we have to wait 2 hours for the wind to settle before race two. It was great to have a support boat near with water, cookies and other stuff during the wait.
     
  15. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    I'm sure it was "great". But it did give you an unfair advantage over the other competitors. Tie your water bottle on your boat somewhere. Put your snacks in a pocket on your PFD if it has one or in a bag under an inspection hatch. Be a REAL Laser sailor.
     
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  16. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    Did you give water and cookies and other stuff to the other hungry and thirsty kids without coach boats? The point is, if you did not, then your children had an unfair advantage.
     
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  17. rmraya

    rmraya New Member

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    We were about 100 sailors (~40 Lasers and 60 Optimists) floating while the wind was changing. We gathered in groups around the 10 or 12 coach boats and the RC boat. We all shared water, coke, cookies and had a good time. None cared about "unfair advantages". Some kids jumped from their Optimists to our Lasers and played around. Others just enjoyed some good swimming.

    None was left alone.
     
  18. rmraya

    rmraya New Member

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    You are wrong, nothing was unfair. We are real sailors, not cartoons. We all shared our stuff and had a good time, despite the changing wind.
     
  19. rmraya

    rmraya New Member

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    BTW, Local regulations forbid kids sailing Optimists without a coach in a boat that could rescue them. Kids can sail an Optimist until they are 15; they cannot sail on their own until they are at least 16 and get a license from the coastguard.
     
  20. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    This thread is about events where this sharing doesn't happen, but I'm glad to hear that it does in some places. Here in the states, kids only need licenses to drive powerboats. Never heard of a coastguard one for sailors.
     

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