Hendo On (Paige Railey) Cheating

Rob B

Well-Known Member
It is very interesting. I can testify that Judges do pay more attention to the front of a fleet for 42 stuff than the back, but for the most part they can not tell individual sailors from one another unless someone has obnoxious sponsor stuff all over the boat making it obvious. It is also clear that the laser is a very physical boat and our body motion ties directly to the boat. Those in the elite end do push the limits. However, I would imagine if you got tagged 2 times at an event you would certainly settle down unless the event did not mean anything to you. His comment directed toward Paige is interesting. I don't know her so I'll withold any opinions there. However, she has been chunked from 2 big events now for 42 violations. If it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, looks like a duck........?
Great insights from that interview at the sailing anarchy link.

Golf is a game where the professionals have such high integrity that they call fouls on themselves even when noone else saw the infraction. I'll bet that is why Buddy Melges withdrew from the competition mentioned at the anarchy link. A friend of mine who used to work on a NASCAR crew says a common expression amongst the crews was "there are cheaters who win and cheaters who come in close and then the poor (expletive deleted) who can't keep up with the cheaters. Isn't it too bad that we need judges in our sport.
Thread starter #4
Isn't it too bad that we need judges in our sport.
I fully agree. Buddy Melges, indeed, writes that he withdrew from a race, I think because his boat touched a mark. Nobody saw it since he was far in the lead. I have sailed with many people who acted in exactly the same way, doing a penalty turn, while no one saw the foul. I have also raced against people who simply deny that they did anything wrong, even while I was half a boatlength away and saw the foul very clearly (and after the race they even denied that I hailed them...).
I truly do not know in which category Paige Railey falls. I hope she is a great sailor, who would do a penalty turn even if no one did see her foul, in a Buddy Melges-like way. I must say that kinetics is a difficult area. One must push to the limits of what is allowed, at least, if you want to compete on the level she does.
One thing is truly disappointing: the lack of attention for these issues! Sailing Anarchy is the main source of information here. The same is true for the Brody-incident. I would be interested to read a piece on this in the Laser Sailor. However, all we hear from the class is that everything is going great. Is there someone out there with some journalistic capacities who recognizes the potential for an important story and who can write a balanced article on these issues? When one laser sailor physically attacks another sailor on the race course, and the best US-Sailor is thrown out of two major regatta's, I think there should be plenty of material!
I am not after a huge scandal story, of course! Instead, I think it is very important to the integrity of the class to cover these issues. I would like to read an interview with some of the top sailors, past and present. Is something changing in the attitude of sailors? Do they go to extreme measures? Sailing anarchy has a couple of threads on cheating in both one design and phrf. Gary Jobson recently wrote an article on this topic in Sailing World. The laser class should think about how to get the message across that sailing is a sport, that is supposed to be enjoyed by all. Sailing should be fun, also at the Olympic level. From the interviews I read with Railey, I do think she is the kind of sailor who does love the sport of sailing. Yet, if people push it this far, I wonder how much they still can enjoy it?


Rob B

Well-Known Member
Excellent point George. Our boat is a competitive one for sure and things can and do get rough at times. However, we have two excellent opportunities to turn bad situations into learning opportunities. The Cobb incident I believe is public knowledge as rule 69 hearing findings can be found through US Sailing. This could be posted in the next Laser Sailor. Sure it was a bad deal, but people read that stuff and say, "Man that's just crazy." to themselves and the next time they feel any rage coming on they just think back to what they learned from the Cobb incident and perhaps keep cool. I think Paige could turn this into a decent PR article for the Laser Saolir by writing about what she did wrong and learned from getting tossed. Hey, we all make mistakes right? However, it seems our class likes to sweep anything bad or negative under the rug like the way some topics get yanked from this site at times. Which leaves everything to speculation and rumor and that is always negative. It's like the old saying, "In the South we put our crazy folks out on the front poarch for everyone to see. That way no one can talk about you."
Thread starter #6

I fully agree with your comment that the class seems to sweep anything bad or negative under the rug." I have also been wondering about the political motivation of "yanking" some topics from this site, as you suggest.
I am also disappointed that almost no one else seems to be concerned about this.

I, too, am concerned about this. 30 years ago, when I learned how to sail, sailing/racing was a very honorable sport - the Buddy Melges way, if you will. Today, not so much. Unfortunately, today's society in general is much less honorable then it used to be. I am in no way making excuses - I really don't care for the way society is today, either.

Not to get on my soapbox, but we as sailors need to stay honorable - and when we see someone stray, we need to set them on the correct path.

I think a couple of well-written articles on these 2 incidents in the Laser Sailor would be a good thing - make people stop and think. After all, this is supposed to be fun. We create the rules for ourselves - shouldn't we all follow them?

I fully agree with your comment that the class seems to sweep anything bad or negative under the rug." I have also been wondering about the political motivation of "yanking" some topics from this site, as you suggest.
I am also disappointed that almost no one else seems to be concerned about this.
Personally, I don't believe in bashing individuals in online forums, there is more than enough of that going around lately. On the other hand, recent events certainly serve as a catalyst for attempting, again, a series of articles on kinetics, the rules, sportsmanship, etc. and we are actively working on this for the Spring Edition of The Laser Sailor. If all goes according to plan this will include perspectives from some top sailors as well as some IJ's.

Deadline is March 15, if you have something you think you would like to contribute, pm me.



Staff member
I have also been wondering about the political motivation of "yanking" some topics from this site, as you suggest.
Georg et all,
This comment concerns me greatly. I can assure you that no thread or post has been deleted from The Laser Forum due to political reasons. I just went back through to double check the deleted items and there hasn't been any threads (with the exception of spam) pulled since the site went to vb3.0 software years ago. To suggests messages are "yanked" off TLF due to political pressure is completely baseless and actually offensive to me. I strive to promote an environment where everyone is welcome to publish their opinions, no matter how controversial, without fear of personal harassment from other members, class officials (who have no moderation power on this site), or myself. Further, if by "yanked" you mean closed, the "Gross Misconduct at Laser PCCs" thread was closed for a short period to allow tempers to cool. I made this decision independently based on the (lack of) quality of the discussion.

If you still feel concerned and would like to discuss this further please don't hesitate to post, email, or call me direct (334-759-1000).



Super Opinionated and Always Correct

Paul Henderson did not call Paige Railey a cheater. In fact paul Henderson did everything except apologize to Paige for the general judging situation.

Henderson compared the judge's calls against Paige to baseball umpires who call different sizes and shapes of strike zones.

Do we call a baseball player a cheater when he stands there and hopes the pitch is a ball...only to be sent to the bench by an umpire who calls a wider than expected strike zone?

I don't think our international president or the sailing umpires serving in his association would.

Henderson makes it clear that he is not pleased by the fact that our sailors have an increased difficulty factor added to the sport because we as the sailing communmity cannot train and deploy perfect interpretors of Rule 42.

There is no real need for him to apologize. There is certainly a need to understand the difficulty, respect those who work to judge, and probably we must change our rules, training, and methods of enforcement to make consistent judging and umpiring possible.

Consider further the Major League Baseball umpire. He is not only a person who is paid a hundred thousand dollars a year. He is a person who has proven himself in Little League, Pony league, High School, College, Semi Pro, Minor Professional Leagues, and finally Professional Baseball. The Major League Umpire is selected from a pool of individuals which is larger by many times than the entire world wide sailing communmity. Major League umpires cannot even agree and consistently decide whether a thrown ball has passed through a defined rectangle.
More on the Baseball comparison?:
Last year the Baseball Poo Bahs decided to raise the called strike zone a few inches. The printed rules say strikes can be as high as the armpits. The umpires had ceased to call any pitch a strike which was above the belt. The league asked umpires to start calling strikes up into the mid belly area.
The league didn't even ask the umpires to call the printed zone and the umpires had a hell of a time adjusting upwards at all for many months. Further, the PROFESSIONAL, unpires wrere inconsistent as hell while the changes took place.

Our sailing judges, even at the international level, are part time volunteers.

Certainl we must expect the following:
The international sailing community has problems of "interpretation by the judges" with respect to rule 42.

According to our well respected international president, Paige may as well have stood with he bat on her shoulder while what she thought was ball four was called strike three.

Further, he elaborated that, umpires call different size strike zones.

Tonight, I agree with him.

Let's quit calling our fellow sailors cheaters because they have been, in the words of our international president, called out on strikes.

Cheating is a bad thing involving malice toward the rules. Certainly Paige has exhibited nothing approaching what anyone should or could reasonably label as cheating.

Rob B

Well-Known Member
Well, she has been chucked fro 2 high profile events for the same thing. This fact has lead to the whole discussion. I'm not bashing just stating a fact. Looking forward to the rule 42 article in the spring laser sailor.
Thread starter #12
I am happy to hear that the class is working an thinking about this. I hope you do not accuse me of wanting to "bash individuals" because that is certainly not my intention. That is the reason why I hope for a well-balanced article on this important issue.
Thank you for your comments! I know you do a lot of hard work to keep this forum going. The suggestions above were a bit too much going in the direction of a conspiracy theory. I appologize for contributing to those comments.
I agree, but how do we set sailors on the right path, and moreover what exactly is the right path when it comes to rule 42?
I will study your post over the next few weeks. Just kidding! I did not intend to call Paige Railey a cheater, and I do not think I did. All I want is a discussion about this complicated topic and I think your comments are contributing to this discussion.



Rob B

Well-Known Member
Good, no GREAT to see a 42 article being considered.

Sorry about the "topic yanking" comment. I get frustrated at times because it seems we get good serious topics going and they just fade away....Not Bradley's fault.

As for Hendo. Well, I guess discussing his perceived thoughts on PR really does not do anything positive. However, I would like to hear from her regarding her thoughts on getting so many flags for rule 42. If we get info from the judges throwing the flag why not hear from those of the receiving end?
Thread starter #14
As has been pointed out, other sports have serious problems too when it comes to cheating. I do not know much about Nascar racing, but I read this article about 7 penalties (fines, suspensions, and start penalties) for, among other things, adding performance enhancing additives to the fuel. Their attitude, according to the New York Time, is that if you do not cheat you are not trying hard enough.
There is a clear difference between using an illegal substance and making an illegal move, but what I think is striking is that the attitude towards rule 42 is for many people similar: if you do not get flagged once in a while, you are not trying hard enough.
Is it possible to make better agreements between sailors, so that all know before we go out on the water what those limits are? I do not like the mechanism of constantly testing the limits, because that will ultimately mean that those limits will shift.



Super Opinionated and Always Correct
I finally took the time to thoroughly read the Henderson interview linked from the first post of this thread.

There certainly is a lot of confusion in the man's answers.
On the one hand he says violations of Rule 42 are premeditated and therefore deserving of special consideration
On the other hand he mentions his belief that the judges cannot consistently "call the strike zone" of Rule 42 and give the competitors a fair target.
But then he babbles on that the competitors should know the "strike zone."

THis is not meant to criticize paul Henderson. He is a guy doing service to the game and giving his best effort.

My point? If the International grand Poo Bah of sailing cannot make sense when talking about rule 42 and its proper enforcement, how the hell can he vast majority of us who just play the game when we san spare a few precious vacation hours, manage to play at full speed while staying within rules...???

Henderson clearly and with certainty in his somewhat conflicting answers, stated in that interview:
Rule 42 is a confusing rule which even the very best sailors and judges are incapable of interpreting in the same way 100% of the time?

For the time being I am content to simply point out that the rule does not work well. I have no solutions except I will continue to ask for application of the overriding principle of fairness and sportsmanship.

I am troubled by the fact that even our very best and most trained sailors suffer from a system that occasionally throws them off the race course when they were not even aware they were breaking any rules.
It is not just paige who has suffered from "tossed out while I thought I was within the boundaries."

On one occasion I invited a US sailor who had been thrown out of a world championship race to view the video I happened to be shooting of his boat as teh offense occurred. He was winning by about 50 yards and ther is no way in hell he would ever have been so damn stupid as to deliberately cheat to add a few feet to that lead. He was certainly capable of sailing well. He was winning a race a the world championships and he was on the last reach leg when he was flagged.
We watched the video more than once to figure out what he did to get flagged. He wasn't doing anything we understood to be cheating. We then checked with the judges who made the call and found out he was called for an entirely different infraction.. He leaned his boat to weather and trimmed at the same time twice on that one mile leg.
We rewatched the video.
The boat was clearly being washed to leeward by the rolling crests of waves and his trim was simply the right thing to do to keep the sail full.
The judges decided his bow did not point to leeward as his mast leaned to weather. He was not steeering with the sail so he was therefore illegally rocking.

In the judges defense, throughout the regatta, they called other sailors for the same "infraction."
In fact, the international competitors who "knew the judges and how the judges enforced the rules" had little or no problem sailing at full speed without being called for breaking the rules.

When I took that video of that race, I had been racing sailboats for 43 previous seasons.
The sailor who was tossed looked to me like he was just carefully riding his boat around while simply attempting to get to the finish line without hitting a mark or finding another way to choke away the lead in the best race of his life.

My opinion: At this time, the rule and its enforcement simply is not fair.
Yeah, Rule 42 is not fair, but is there a better way to police the use of kinetics in sailing?

Rule 42 is not fair because:

- at regattas where it is enforced, it is impossible to enforce it consistently. Even if we had highly trained, full-time, paid judges (like baseball umpires) we would have human beans using their eyes and their judgement to make the calls.

But more importantly:

-at regattas where it is not enforced by judges on the race course, the sailors who sail using more kinetics win and the poor schmucks who are too old-fashioned, sportsmanlike, or unfit to pump and rock their way around the course finish last. You cannot protest a fellow competitor for a Rule 42 infraction without literally producing video evidence of his actions. (maybe some day . . . )

Maybe we should consider a two-fleet system - one fleet sails and the other fleet uses "air rowing". Hopefully never the twain shall meet. But . . . what would happen? The sailing fleet would be the one that needed the judges. As the top sailors got better and closer together, they would naturally resort to the subtle - almost invisible - kinetics used to such advantage by such champions as Robert Scheidt. (Paige needs to take some lessons from him.)


I have an interesting story on judging from an experience I had at the '98 North Americans in Victoria, BC. An old friend, Mike Wier was acting as the on-the-water judge for the event, and he had never judged any Laser racing before. On my advice, he called Allan Broadribb who was at that time both an Int'l Judge and the Exec. Sec of the NA Laser Class. Mike asked "Allan, How do I tell if someone is exceeding the rule?". Allan replied "Mike, just look across the fleet and pick out the sails that are moving more than everyone else's." I rode in Mike's judge boat, taking pictures, and sure enough it was really easy to see the blatant pumpers. Interestingly, after the first whistle and flag it got progressively harder to detect any illegal motion. Just the fact that there was a judge "looking" cooled everyone off.

Granted, this was very early in on-the-water judging days, and it was a light air regatta. But . . . surely if everyone's doing mostly the same thing then the sailing is fair? Yes, it's always going to be a judgement call.

In my mind that should be the goal - uniformity. The best sailor will win if everyone is allowed to use the same level of kinetics at a regatta. So, who trains the judges, and is this one of the criteria they are taught?

Perhaps a practice race or two at big events should be mandatory, just to let the competitors test the judge's tolerances?

There's no fix for this problem, but there are small things that will add up to a better way to manage it. Just my 2 cents.



Super Opinionated and Always Correct
So what is the answer to this question??

In the seventies, Laser sailing was so pupular in noth America we had over 7000 class members and about 10,000 new boats were being sold per year for a while.

During that period, kinetics were not controlled. Sailors could wear whatever they were jock enough to hang over the side. Some sailors wore water bottles AND two or three thick sweatshirts.

The sport boomed as is has never done since. When the wind piped up, nobody over about 30 had a chance in hell against the musclejockhikemonsters. Guys who played hockey in the winter generally were the best heavy air Laser sailors in the summer.

Now the same people are still competitive And very old and boring) and we have rules that keep the youngsters from using their young bodies to kick the old men's asses.

Is the sport better?

If the sport is better because of the kinetics rules, why don't more sailors take it up as teenagers and come race with the old farts who now populate the game?? ( like we did back in the seventies)

Is a bunch of rules that keep the kids from clobbering the tired and fat old farts helping the sport or just helping the old and the frail to occasionally win in the "sport?" of sailing??

There are certainly rules which could be added to other sports to make them "fair contests of skill" just as sailing seems to think is appropriate.

No jumping! No running! No throwing passes of more than twenty feet. Once a shooter has squared to the basket, no one may enter the path to the basket and interrupt the shot.
Would the non ath;letic basketball be superior becuase it would be a game of shooting skill and subtle slow movement by players as they jockey for position on the court??

No pushing or shoving by offensive linemen. Defenders must walk, not run, around the offensive blockers who may only back up. No running with or without the ball. No passes of more than ten feet.

Why the hell do the lords of sailing think the athletic part of our game should be removed??

Remember, I am over 54 years old. Allowing kinetics means that on lightweight responsive boats, kids get to open their can of whup ass and use it. Frail and old would rarely win and they would only beat the jocks when they were much more clever and used their treachery.
I think the kids y would have lots of fun playing that game, beating their parents, and I am all for letting them play.

And the little frail kids would lose to the big strong kids.

Yes. Little frail people generally get their asses kicked by big strong people in virtually all physical sports. Clumsy and stupid folks lose a lot too.

sailing will always be a sport where the smart little person has a chance in some conditions. There is a lot more to sailing than kicking the boat around the course.
Unfortunatly, the simple reality is that the laser is a lightweight boat which can be kicked around and that kicking can be used to make the boat go faster.

Another truth is that very few people actually have the skills to effectively use kinetics. Allowing kinetics only changes the game a lot at the highest level of competition.

If we want to call our game a sport, Shouldn't the highest level be contested by the very best athletes??

I do ot understrand the acceptance of "dumbing down the game so everybody can play."

More people played before the game was dumbed down. Dumbing it down hasn't helped.
What are we, social engineers bent of making the game accessible to everybody..even if we have to ruin the game to acomplish that goal??


Let's go back to sailing as a sport.
The game was not bad.

I would rather sail around in eightieth in a hundred boat fleet of everybody doing his best to get the boats around the course, than win in a fleet of old farts who have effectively disarmed the kids who should be winning all the trophies.

Flame away gang!!
While I don't own a Laser, it seems to me this topic
applies equally to other, like disciplines. I have also had
my fair share of encounters with Rule 42 so I hope
these points entitle me to respond in this forum.

I like Gouvernail's references to what I think are bringing back
athleticism and giving everyone a fair shot at the statistical
outliers in breezy conditions. However, I do not understand those
that speak of and condone 'athletic activity' in a sailboat when
conditions are light.

What about if Rule 42 were to apply only when the wind strength
was less than 15 knots? With the R.C. to determine/signal either
the 'on' or 'off' condition for 42.

On this one I gotta disagree with you Fred.

1) In the "good old days" (when everyone bought cars made in Detroit) the emphasis in racing was on the upwind legs (remember "Olympic" courses where you had three upwind legs, two reaches and one downwind leg?), downwind was when you broke out the sandwiches and beer. Today we race Trapezoids at most major events where the emphasis is on offwind performance with two downwind legs, two reaches and only two upwind legs. Both of us are "big" guys who, in the right conditions, can still get to the first mark in good shape. After that I feel like I'm the guy driving the speed limit in the slow lane of the freeway and once the "good guys" get ahead I can never get them back.

2) Sailors in the seventies **MIGHT** have been stronger but I doubt they were the superb athletes that today's Olympic level Laser sailors are. I recall reading an article where the claim was made that in 2000 Ben Ainslie had a general fitness level of an Olympic middle distance runner, a comment I could really appreciate from my younger days as a 10k runner. Since then, of course, he has gone on to completely dominate the Finn Class where, it should be remembered, they have a Q flag rule which allows unlimited rocking and pumping in over 12 knots. And, of course, there are sailors like Robert Scheidt, Michael Blackburn, Tom Slingsby, Gustavo Lima, Mike Leigh, etc., etc. who are all absolutely superb athletes. I was at the awards for the Laser Worlds in Turkey where Robert Scheidt, after winning, was induced to remove his shirt as the festivities started to get a little out of hand - that guy was as cut as I have ever seen any athlete be.

3) In this era of "50 is the new 30," where it is not uncommon to see baseball players still making millions of dollars in their 40's, Football players playing into their late 30's to early 40's, Tennis players retiring in their late 30's, Golfers retiring when they are eligible for Social Security, etc., etc., it is not really surprising to me that Master's sailors can still get out and bang around the course with younger sailors. And it is a testament to Michael Blackburn's training program that he can win a Laser World Championship at the age of 35, though I don't for one second believe he did it because the sport has been "dumbed down."

4) Rule 42 does not require you to sit on your boat like a marble statue, remaining completely motionless while you ride your boat through the water. On the contrary, Rule 42 attempts to draw the line between body movement which optimizes sail and hull trim and that which changes the game from sailing to air rowing. In my ever so humble opinion, there is nothing more beautiful than a run on a Laser in planing and surfing conditions and nice waves where the boats are executing perfect S turns as the play the wind and waves enroute to the leeward mark. Watch the top guys carefully on these runs, they are moving their bodies to optimize fore/aft trim and rolling to help steer the boat through the waves. In addition, as they turn from by the lee to windward they are rapidly trimming the main by several armloads, only to ease again as they carve down by the lee again. Note that they TRIMMING, they very rarely pump the sail since, if they are SAILING the boat right they don't need to. Is it athletic? Ask any Olympic level athlete what their heart rate is on a run like this, they'll tell you they are running in the 80+% of max the whole time. The real beauty of this, I think, is that it takes real skill to sail a Laser in conditions like this and it takes not only superb physical conditioning but also a tremendous number of hours of practice. In these conditions the truly best SAILORS will win, not the big oafs who can row faster.

If you want to see a great example of "air rowing" in action, go to Gary Jobson's reports from the Miami OCR (www.jobsonsailing.com) and in the video section download the video from "Rolex Miami OCR - day 1." The second half of this video features Zach Railey, a former top North American Laser Sailor and now the top US Finn sailor, on the first day of the OCR. A little past halfway through the video is a short, perhaps 10 second, clip of Zach sailing downwind with the Q flag flying. Since a Laser is a much more responsive boat than a Finn, to me this video only shows you the surface of what would happen to Laser sailing if we went with a Q flag rule.

Rule 42 is not perfect but, IMHO, it goes a long way to achieving the goal of allowing the game to be athletic while keeping it a sailing contest. To go a step further, the "problem" with Rule 42 is NOT that it dumbs down sailing, but rather one of education and attitude. But... those topics really deserve their own thread...

Yes, the challenge is to define when "sailing" becomes "air rowing".

Back when the issue of kinetics was first addressed by the wise and earnest folks who make our Racing Rules, they defined, I think it was "the natural action of the wind across the sail". "Wind" was what was blowing all over the water, not what you could generate yourself by fanning your sail through the air.

IF you don't make a rule, then those young, energetic and fit enough can fan their way all the way around a race course even if there is hardly a breath of REAL (weather and thermally generated) wind. Is this "athletic"? Do the kids really have more fun doing this, and whupping the old farts' asses than they would if they have to learn the skills to sail?

Race Committees routinely do not start races until there is a minimum wind speed across the race course to allow SAILING to happen.

I guess it's what you interpret the sport as being - a game of athleticism, or a game of skill and strategy. As Tracy points out, it's always going to be the big, strong young athlete's day when it's hiking weather. What's wrong with making the same big, strong youngsters learn the skills and the strategies to sail the boat in light wind?

Like a diamond, the sport of sailing has so many more facets than just generating air flow across the sail, and a really skilled sailor has to learn them all. A really skilled "air rower" doesn't have to learn how to read a compass to tack on the shifts, read the water for the puffs, lulls and currents, or read the clouds to be ready for a wind change. When they're invited to go crew on Alinghi or Oracle, yes, they will be strong enough, but are they as great sailors as the other guys on that boat?

Want to address "dumbing down the game" ? Without the use of Rule 42, or something like it, sailing just becomes the game of "who can pump the best?" and you'll get a bunch of steroidosaurs with big muscles and no brains just like you get in other pure speed sports, like, say, track and field. Yup, lots of interesting, smart, articulate sportscasters coming out of that bunch of athletes, all right.

Take a look at the quality of the people we race with/against. Sailing attracts a phenomenally bright bunch, because it is a game of skill and tactics, not just athleticism. C'mon Bunny - a genius like you wouldn't be so passionate about this sport if it degenerated into "air rowing" races.

There's an ad on the TV right now that keeps grabbing my attention - the tag line is "What kind of world do you want?" I want a fair contest when I go sailboat racing, where everybody plays by the same rules whether or not they're young and fit or old and feeble. I want to be able to compete when the conditions demand my skills and favor my ability level.

I also want the conversation at dinner to be about water and weather and shifts and boat tuning, not how much did you bench press at the gym yesterday.