Sailing Bullying - What Would You Do?

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Mrs. P, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. Mrs. P

    Mrs. P Member

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    I’ve been watching a bullying situation unfold for three years and it’s about to come to a head. The sailor being harassed has had enough and decided it’s time to take a stand. The question is, what response is in the best interest of the sport (dinghy sailing) and the class (Laser)?
    Did you ever see the viral video of the oversized kid that was being bullied by a group of kids and he finally decided he’d had enough and picked up one of the smaller kids as if he were a toy and then slammed him to the ground? Many cheered the oversized kid but some called him a bully. The situation I’m talking about is similar in that the harassed sailor is one of the best sailors in the area and is capable of wrecking havoc (within the rules) but he has chosen not to ... until now.
    So to keep the details simple, three years ago, the sailor was ‘encouraged’ to leave the Laser fleet he sailed in. He did. We’ll skip the details and just say that it didn’t and still doesn’t make sense but he decided to just give it time. Over the three year period, there were instances of unprovoked hostility directed at him and he received inquiries from friends asking why they were being ‘recruited to a hate club’. When he sought an explanation from the fleet captain he was physically threatened and told to watch his back. WTF? Time passed and he tried to join the fleet a couple of years later and was told no. They said he wouldn’t be good for the fleet. Months later, he learned, indirectly, that he was welcome to sail with the Lasers anytime. So again, last Wednesday night, he tried to sail with them while working with a guy in the fleet that he'd seen struggling who had accepted an offer of help. The harassed sailor was again told he wasn’t welcome and that it was a ‘private race course’ and he needed to leave.
    After three years, this very competent, fed up, gentle natured Canadian sailor has decided he’s had enough. The competitiveness of the fleet has declined over the years. Newer and younger sailors appear to be receiving poor to no mentoring. The leadership of the fleet and a handful of sailors are the primary instigators. They appear to be more concerned with politics and producing a fleet they can beat rather than a fleet that challenges them to get better.
    So here’s the deal. There is no such thing as a “private course” since there is no legal right to restrict anyone from sailing on a public lake. If you were this sailor, would you sail anyway and teach these bullies some manners or would you just walk away? What is best for the sport and class?
    To end on a positive note … here’s a link to a video of sailors in this district playing the game the right way.
    http://www.impropercourse.com/2012/04/2011-easter-laser-regatta-highlights.html
     
  2. Railmeat

    Railmeat New Member

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    If it were me, I'd grab 2 - 5lb mushroom anchors, a couple of Clorox bottles, some line and invite those who want to get better to come and sail, using rabbit starts at least initially - make it competitive and have the winner of the previous race start as the rabbit - if he wins again, use the 2nd place finisher as rabbit and so on - debriefs are mandatory as it provides tips, make the fleet better, more cohesive, more fun and better long term
     
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  3. laserxd

    laserxd Member

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    its just sad to hear things like this are happening, there is NO reason for this and its unacceptable,

    "private course" does not apply to public areas, they can't keep you from sailing on a public body of water,

    I would contact the district rep and possibly US sailing (in the USA) and let them know, bullying takes away from the sport (and all sports for that matter) and they have zero tolerance for it

    the most important thing is to keep sailing, don't let anyone ever keep you from sailing!
     
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  4. Let's tell the truth

    Let's tell the truth New Member

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    Mrs. P writes and asks:

    "There is no such thing as a "private course" since there is no legal right to restrict anyone from sailing on a public lake. If you were the sailor, would you sail anyway and teach these bullies some manners or would you just walk away? What is best for the sport and class?

    The simple response to Mrs. P's blatantly one-side fabrication is:

    What's best for the sport? To sustain sailing, responsible racers/sailors pay membership dues to their local clubs. Even a sailing "rock star" is expected to pay membership dues to be eligible to race there regularly. The sport needs race committee boats and rescue boats, gas, safety equipment, personnel, facilities, flags, radios, etc. After years of freeloading by this "gentle natured Canadian sailor", perhaps the local club members are tired of being polite.
     
  5. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    There was the infamous case a few years ago of someone who tried to use their fists instead of filing a protest. If I remember correctly, there may have been an Olympic campaign at stake. I believe it went up through US Sailing, and the offending party was banned from organized sailing events for several years.
     
  6. Let's tell the truth

    Let's tell the truth New Member

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    Hailing "Ineligible yacht, please leave the race area!" is hardly using fists. Failure of any knowingly ineligible yacht to intentionally refuse to leave the race area is unsportsmanlike conduct and may rise to a rule 2 and/or rule 69 violation.
     
  7. Mrs. P

    Mrs. P Member

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    Railmeat:a very thoughtful and enlightened suggestion and perhaps the best way to go. Thank you!

    laserxd:Contacting US Sailing would seem to be another good option too.

    Let's tell the truth: Your comments have merit and may have hit upon the core problem ... telling the truth. The sailor didn't sail with the fleet for a couple of years and he has no aversion to pulling his weight but when he tried to join the fleet last summer, this is what happened:

    Requirement to join fleet (direct quote but abbreviated):

    “... X will introduce your application to all the existing DLF members. We require unanimous agreement from all the then DLF members in order to accept a new member. ...”

    Fleet response (direct quote but abbreviated):

    “You mentioned in a prior email to me and others your potential interest in joining the Dallas Laser Fleet so you could participate in the Fleet and in the organized racing/event ...

    The purpose of this email is to let you know I have checked with Fleet members and you do not have the Fleet member support for membership or guest status in the Dallas Laser Fleet at this time.”

    A follow-up face to face conversation indicated the “unanimous consent” rule was made up to specifically exclude this sailor. Not sure what you refer to when you say "years of freeloading". He sails with another fleet on the lake and regularly serves on race duty, helps with training, regattas, etc. It's a shame the Laser fleet has chosen not to allow him to do the same.

    He would welcome a review of facts and accountability from US Sailing. It might go a long way towards clearing up the misinformation.
     
  8. laserxd

    laserxd Member

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    “... X will introduce your application to all the existing DLF members. We require unanimous agreement from all the then DLF members in order to accept a new member. ...”

    that is a big reason why there is and/or will be limited participation in your fleet, if one person doesn't like a new person for whatever reason they're not allowed to sail?

    the goal of any sailing fleet should be to encourage sailing

    it is unclear, are dues the issue?
     
  9. Mrs. P

    Mrs. P Member

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    Dues weren't an issue for the sailor who was declined entry. He was more than willing to pay.

    It would appear there is some misinformation that has left some members with the impression that the issue was financial when, in reality, it's simply that entry was arbitrarily declined. I don't know for sure, but I don't think any of the current members were subjected to the "unanimous consent" rule.
     
  10. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    This is nuts. Whoever heard of a Laser fleet that required unanimous agreement from all current members before accepting a new member? By our very nature we Laser sailors are unusual, quirky, prickly, short-tempered, egotistical, antisocial bastards. That's why we sail Lasers. If we were all warm and fuzzy and cuddly we would sail keelboats. I don't like all the Laser sailors I know. Some of the Laser sailors I know don't like me, I'm sure. That's the nature of the beast. Deal with it. You're never going to grow a fleet if you reject anyone who isn't liked by even one sailor already in the fleet. Laser sailing is all about learning to deal with people you dislike by crushing and humiliating them on the racecourse. How are you going to do that if you refuse to even race against him?
     
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  11. Let's tell the truth

    Let's tell the truth New Member

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    You are absolutely correct. Admittedly that Fleet has seen the error of its ways. They have never have had to deal with an issue such as this and a decision or two were made, regretted, and corrected. Anyone may join the Fleet. There remains a requirement that every sailor who joins the Fleet must be a member of one of two clubs on the lake. The dues of either club are inexpensive. Simple and easy. The invitation is extended to ANYONE to become a member of one of the two clubs, join the Fleet, and come sail! The complaining party is a very good Laser sailor who could impart a lot of knowledge to the many members of varying skill levels of this Fleet.

    I understand there were 15 Lasers on the line last evening which is the average turn out (plus or minus a couple) every Wednesday evening from mid-April through mid-October. The water temperature is already in the mid-70s and no power boats, other than race duty boats, are allowed on the lake. This lake is a great venue with some awesome sunsets. Come sail with us!
     
  12. Mrs. P

    Mrs. P Member

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    We seem to have a moving target and more miscommunication. Today, the sailor (Mr. P) spoke with the Commodore of the club that hosts the fleet. He was told he qualifies for club membership but he remains disqualified for fleet membership. The the Commodore said the fleet gets to make up their own rules and people have to follow them. Although he defended the “unanimous consent” rule, he indicated the primary reason for denied entry was that the sailor has a blog and they wanted a promise of no “blog fodder” and the sailor couldn’t give it.

    In reality, I maintain the blog for Mr P as well as the blog of another fleet on the lake and they objected to material I wrote as “blog fodder”. Mr. P simply has no control of what I write nor should anyone ... First Amendment ... freedom of speech and all that.

    So, we are going to take Railmeat's suggestion. We'll be out there on Wednesday evenings (not on the Laser course) and anyone wanting mentoring from a two time Masters World Champion is welcome to join. Zero restrictions or conditions and no politics. Just sailing!
     
  13. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    You skipped over that small point before. The sailor has a blog! Of course they don't want him in the fleet. Who would want a blogger in their fleet writing about every damn thing that happens on his blog? Quite understandable. I say let's ban all bloggers from Laser sailing.
     
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  14. torrid

    torrid Just sailing

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    Nothing wrong with blogging, you just need to be judicious in what you post. Especially when it concerns other people.
     
  15. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    Totally agree torrid. (I was joking of course in my previous comment.) It's one thing I struggle with on my own blog. It's almost impossible to write a blog about Laser racing without mentioning interactions with other sailors. On my blog, I try to be "judicious" by not mentioning the real names of other sailors, at times even avoiding mentioning the real name of the fleet or club at which I'm sailing, and by striving not to put other sailors in a bad light.

    Having found the blog in question here I haven't yet seen anything remotely objectionable about the fleet concerned. Except it is clear that the sailor Mr. P. is a lot faster sailor than the other fleet members. But that's surely not the reason they don't want him in their fleet, is it?
     
  16. jeffers

    jeffers Active Member

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    You would be surprised. to be fair if there was someone of that level in my fleet I would want them there and i would also be picking their brains and asking them to share their knowledge and techniques with the fleet.

    After all the same person winning all the time can get a little boring and monotonous!

    This is why, as one of the faster sailors, at my home club I always work with the newcomers and other fleet members to try and raise the standard throughout the fleet. it makes for more fun racing.
     
  17. Merrily

    Merrily Administrator Staff Member

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    You've got to be kidding about not wanting a blogger in the fleet. Blogging about sailing, as long as it's done in a positive spirit, brings people out!
     
  18. Tillerman

    Tillerman Member

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    It can get a little boring if the same person wins all the time. I've been on fleets like that (and was even that guy myself in one fleet - believe it or not.) But it sounds as Mr P. is quite happy to share his knowledge and to help the less experienced sailors, so they ought to be pleased that he wants to join their fleet.
     
  19. Mrs. P

    Mrs. P Member

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    Tillerman: Your posts are pretty funny. Thanks for the shout out on your blog. Our stats shot through the roof overnight. By the way, we love your blog and used you as a blueprint for our blog but we're not half as entertaining.

    Jeffers: Mr. P is and has always been quite generous with his time and has helped alot of people that have let him. And he always does it by starting with "do you mind if I make a suggestion?" Some people mind because they aren't ready and he always respects that.

    The root cause of this very perplexing situation may never be known. It's probably a mixture of 'be careful what you ask for because you just might get it' (they pushed him out of the fleet and he actually left) and then plain old 'pride'. That small thing can start world wars.

    But, when Mr. P was forced out and not let back in he started sailing with another fleet and helping me blog and I've been systematically emptying his head of every stitch of information that I can. After all the old guy is getting on up there in years and might start forgetting stuff.
     
  20. GBR 134

    GBR 134 Member

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    Any of the guys mentioned are welcome anytime in my fleet and I'll pay their dues for the first season as damned inexpensive coaching fees - trouble is I can't run to the air fares to Norfolk (UK).

    Heh T-man and Mr P I've been entertained by T-man's blog for some years and want to thank him for that and the intro to Mr and Mrs P's blog. Those coaching videos and comments were about the best coaching stuff I've seen!
     

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