What's new

Sailing Bullying - What Would You Do?

Mrs. P

Member
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
 

Railmeat

New Member
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
 

laserxd

Member
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!
 
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.
 

torrid

Just sailing
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.
 
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.
 

Mrs. P

Member
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.
 

laserxd

Member
“... 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?
 

Mrs. P

Member
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.
 

Tillerman

Member
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?
 
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!
 

Mrs. P

Member
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!
 

Tillerman

Member
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.
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.
 

torrid

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

Tillerman

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

jeffers

Active Member
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?
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.
 

Merrily

Administrator
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!
 

Tillerman

Member
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.
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.
 

Mrs. P

Member
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.
 

GBR 134

Member
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!
 

monkey_feet

Arlington, TX
I'm sure this will ruffle some feathers, but I can't let this one go...
I'm not a member of the Dallas fleet in question, but I can say from experience that I haven't met a bunch of better people. They are great, and have invited me to join them to race with them any time. Your description of them being bullies is about as far from the truth as you can get...

Heck, I was even invited over to their fleet kick off party this Winter! Now, if that's a bunch of a-holes. I would like to find more jerks like that to join MY yacht club.

I would also like to point out two things with this post...

1. This is probably the most inappropriate place that I can think of to air dirty laundry. Mrs. P, you are coming at this from one point of view, and a biased one I might add. I'm sure this post was well intentioned; however, it will do nothing but create even more hard feelings. Trust me, I've learned the hard way that doing something like this just makes you look petty. If your husband's goal is to re-join the fleet, name calling in a public form does you no good. Just a suggestion, but maybe he should sit down and have a beer with the leaders of the fleet and air their differences like civilized adults.

2. I don't know you, but I do know your husband. As far as I'm concerned, he's a nice guy and an excellent sailor. How things got so south with the Dallas Laser group is not my business. However, off the top of my head, there are six to seven other yacht clubs in the area that would be more than happy to welcome your husband as a member. Many have smaller groups racing Lasers (FWBC, AYC, GSC, and RCYC to name a few) If there is that level of animosity between your family and the Dallas fleet (and you are either unwilling or unable to sit down like adults), I would suggest moving to another club, or as I've seen your husband at some regattas, sail in an alternate fleet.

Just my two cents.

Jack Hattendorf (just so no one thinks I'm not willing to put my name to my opinion)…

 

monkey_feet

Arlington, TX
From the blog in question...

All summer, every Wednesday evening around 6ish in Lasers on White Rock Lake, but not on the Laser course. They're "racing."

Everyone is welcome, no conditions or restrictions. We'll work on whatever you want to work on. Pam wants to work on boat handling so that's where we'll start but if there is something else you want to work on, just name it.

We'll also be practicing something that is unsafe on virtually all other lakes - night sailing. It will help you get a better feeling for your boat, such as how to get more lift from your centerboard ... very fast!
Look for sail number 195708. That's the mentor. And no matter what that girl sailing 149482 says, don't listen to her. How she manages to stay upright most of the time is a combination of mystery and miracle.

Now, Mrs. P. If you are trying to win friends. This is not the way to do it...

JH
 

Mrs. P

Member
Monkey_feet: Good suggestions and good observations. Multiple attempts have been made through the years to solve this most puzzling situation in a private and civilized manner. No success. When those doors were all closed, I simply wanted a different perspective and suggestions and I believe we've received it.

By the way, Mr. P's goal is no longer to rejoin the fleet. It's to help the members he's seen sailing that don't appear to be getting the mentoring they need. And, if we're honest, when the fleet memebers are good and mad at him, they gang up against him on the race course and try to make his life unpleasant, and being the true Laser sailor he is, he just can't help himself ... he likes it!

So posting was a no lose option with the added potential of scaring up a little competition. Embrace it! That's why you sail a Laser isn't it?
 

monkey_feet

Arlington, TX
"So posting was a no lose option with the added potential of scaring up a little competition. Embrace it! That's why you sail a Laser isn't it?"

No, not really. Trying to break up fleets because of a feud is not my idea of Corinthian sailing...

By scheduling races and training sessions (and trying to peel off Dallas fleet members) on the same day at the same time the Dallas fleet races, you are doing just that.
 

Mrs. P

Member
And no matter what that girl sailing 149482 says, don't listen to her. How she manages to stay upright most of the time is a combination of mystery and miracle.

Clarification for those who didn't get the joke on the invitation posted on the blog ... 149482 is the well known old sail number of Mr. P. He's given away so many sails that the number can be seen on many lakes but the one being referred to is on his spare parts boat which is being sailed by me, Mrs. P. I train on the Laser, but I don't compete on it (at least not well). But maybe the offense was that I downplayed my sailing competence when I still managed to beat a few local sailors at the most recent event. Pure luck, I assure you.
 

Mrs. P

Member
By scheduling races and training sessions (and trying to peel off Dallas fleet members) on the same day at the same time the Dallas fleet races, you are doing just that.
Convenience ... take a few minutes to do some tuning on one part of the lake and then go race. Same night, same time. Easy for everyone. Why do you keep seeing devils around every corner? Some people just want to sail.
 

monkey_feet

Arlington, TX
Not seeing devils, just have been there done that...

Sailing with my fellow Laser buddies is all I plan to do. Like I said, not going to get into the middle of this, but I strongly feel that you are miss-characterizing the Dallas Laser Fleet. They are a great group, and don't deserve to be accused of being bullies or unreasonable. I've been racing with some of them in other fleets for over 15 years, and I've never had a cross word with any of them.

They have been nothing but supportive of helping our fledgling group get rolling to the tune of coming over to my club with 10 boats last year for our first ever Laser regatta (I believe that your husband was racing a Fish in that one). I only had one instance of bullying... When one of the fleet members told me that I owed him a beer for being nice enough to loan a class legal sail to an AYCer that didn't have one.

It's my hope that you can work things out, but if you can't, I just hope that it doesn't get vindictive (as I've seen happen more than once).

JH
 

Tillerman

Member
Tillerman, can't find your blog. Did you get banned too?
OMG. I think I've been deleted. My blog is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired. It's a stiff. Bereft of life. It rests in peace. It's kicked the bucket. It's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding' choir invisible. It's an ex-blog!!
 

Wavedancer

Upside down?
Staff member
It looks to me that the time has come to call a truce (on and off the Dallas waters)

Let's all talk, smile, race and have a good time.
 
Top