June 02, 2014


by Pam
Doug and I had a little adventure this past weekend. Sunfish Southwest Regional Regatta down at Lake Canyon, TX. Drama seems to follow us around wherever we go. Or do we create it? You decide.


Other obligations pull at your time and you're late getting on the road and you arrive at the yacht club gates Friday night at 2:00 AM, no cell phone reception, the gate code provided doesn't work and you're in a remote location about 20 miles from the nearest interstate highway.  Do you …
  1. Try to locate a nearby hotel at 2:00 AM
  2. Drive to a location where you have reception and try to call some lucky sailor at 2:00 AM and ask for the gate code.
  3. Put it in "Park", turn the car off, lean the seats back and retire for the evening.
  4. Climb the gate with barbed wire on the sides, surveillance cameras and warnings of no trespassing so you can go in search of someone with the gate code.

As Doug was straddled atop the 8-10 foot gate and I continued to punch in variations of the gate code, I had a vision of Doug suddenly being whisked to the side while riding the gate with all sorts of obstructions to get tangled in. He must have had the same vision running through his head because he shot me a dirty look and I stopped punching in codes and he dropped down and disappeared into the night.

You've illegally broken into a yacht club by jumping the fence and left your wife at the gate to deal with any police that may have been called. You have located a few cars you don't recognize in the parking lot that might have sailors sleeping in them and you now need to wake someone up, hoping not to get shot by any gun wielding Texans, so you can get the gate code.  Do you …
  1. Pick out a car that looks less likely to be "carrying" and knock 'not like a serial killer' and persist until someone wakes up and gives you the code.
  2. Shout loudly and wake up anyone within earshot and ask for the gate code.
  3. Abandon your wife who tried to open the gate with you on it and just find a lounge chair by the pool and settle in for the night.
  4. Make your wife climb the fence too, leave the car, grab a pillow and blanket and you both go find a lounge chair by the pool.

When Doug returned to the gate, having successfully retrieved the code and not been shot, we entered, left the trailer in the launch area, and went in search of a place to pitch our tent. We got into the tent at the top of a hill and woke up the next morning at the bottom. Upon putting our sleeping gear away, we looked down at the trailer hitch on the car and even though the trailer was in a different location, the connector was firmly attached with a bunch of wires hanging there.  Note to self … 2:00 AM is not a good arrival time.


It was a bit of a rough night and the wind for Saturday is looking iffy. You rig, sail out and start racing. Long about lunch time, you finish the 2nd race in 4th place while your wife is still on the course. It's hot as hell and the Race Committee sends the early finishers in to have lunch in the nice air conditioning.  Do you …
  1. Go in, sit down and relax in the air conditioning and have lunch.
  2. Hang around for a bit, chat with the Race Committee and pretend that you are waiting for your wife, and after waiting a respectable amount of time but before the wind dies completely, slowly head toward the club.
  3. Settle in for the very long, hot, windless wait for your wife who seems to have been parked or sailing backwards for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Accept the tow from the chase boat when the wind dies and abandon that wife who tried to open that dang gate with you on top of it.

As Doug lounged in his boat near the finish line, the wind died and the motor boat slop caused him to drift backwards onto the race course while still well clear of any competitors. When there was a touch of a breeze, he sailed back up above the line but when sailing across the finish line a second time, the Race Committee sounded a horn and scored him with an 11th place.


When the scores come out for Day 1 and you see that your 4th is now an 11th and a little chat to correct the mistake reveals an interpretation from Race Committee that you had continued to sail and they must now count the 11th.  Do you …
  1. Laugh along with all the other sailors getting a kick out of you being penalized for waiting for that wife that tried to open the gate with you on it.
  2. Chalk it up to education and forget about it.
  3. File a Protest
  4. File for Redress

As Doug was called into the redress hearing he was introduced to the protest committee: Bubba, Bubba, and Wayne.  Real names, I swear. Great guys, with a combined age that was well over 200. The redress hearing was most unusual wherein Doug stated the facts and the Race Committee said, I agree 100%. 

You've lost your redress hearing but you don't agree with the results and you've heard that this issue has come up several times and it's becoming a precedent in the region.  Do you …
  1. Forget about it, because it doesn't change the end result anyway.
  2. Forget about it, because it was a Worlds qualifier event and you aren't a member of the class and shouldn't have been allowed to race in the first place.
  3. Make a note to cite this ruling to that wife of yours so you no longer have to wait for her after you've finished.
  4. File an appeal with US Sailing just because it's an interpretation that should be challenged.

Did you know that if you contact the US Sunfish Class Association to inquire about an appeal, you'll talk to the the same folks managing the Laser Class because both classes are managed by the same company Laser Class Secretary because the Laser Class is now managing and running the Sunfish Class?  

Since I don't want Doug to have an excuse not to wait for me at the finish line, "we" filed an appeal.  How would you rule?

Grounds for Appeal:

Improper interpretation by Protest Committee of the following:
Definition of "Finish" - part (c) … continues to sail the course (pg 7 of RRS)
"Fair Sportsmanship" (rule/definition ?)

Facts: These facts were undisputed in the protest hearing. Appellant finished the race and was scored in 4th place. While the first three finishers left the course for lunch, Appellant then lounged in his boat and waited for approximately 10 minutes above and near finish line for his wife to finish the race. The wind died and motor boat waves caused Appellant to drift below the finish line while still well clear of the course of any competitors (it was a long finish line). There was a slight breeze and Appellant used that to sail out of the racing area and upon crossing the finish line for the second time, the RC sounded a horn and re-scored him with an 11th place finish.

Dispute 1: RC and Protest Committee contend that Appellant had "continued to sail the course" when he drifted below the finish line. Case 127 of The Case Book - Interpretations of the Racing Rules 2013-2016 clearly indicates a competitor is finished when 'no finishing mark is influencing her choice of course." Appellant, by definition, had finished racing when he was scored in 4th place and scooched down in his boat to wait for his very lovely wife.

Dispute 2: Protest Committee also contends that "fair sportsmanship" required him to clear the finish line for all other sailors. This is a subjective statement with no rule cited as being broken and no such definition in the RRS.  Appellant was exercising "fair sportsmanship" to wait for his wife at the finish or there would surely be hell to pay if he didn't.

Lake Canyon Yacht Club is a great place to sail and they really go over the top on meals and in welcoming competitors. The Race Committee and Protest Committee were very well trained, very friendly and very respectful.  There were four competent PROs on the Race Committee and they had all been to training and a similar scenario came up on the test. They ruled the way they were taught. I just want to know if the instructor had it right because it doesn't feel right.

So back to the drama question, it's us isn't it?


  1. Why wouldn't you join the Sunfish Class when the NOR eligibility clause clearly says you must be a class member?

    1. I am a member but Doug doesn't sweat the details and I doubt he read the NOR or SIs. He renews his Laser membership usually about the time he signs up for the Worlds and they tell him he needs to renew. I assumed someone would ask him at the event and sign him up then but they didn't. It wasn't until the regatta was over that Doug finally said, 'I'm really starting to like this boat.' I added him to my membership yesterday so he is now a member. Regatta sign up and next business day sign up should have the same effect .. maybe.

    2. Pleased to hear it. A lot of what a class association does for sailors isn't always immediately apparent but, as I am sure you know, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make a class successful and someone has to pay for it.

      Oh, and I don't think you had it quite right when you said that the Laser Class is now running the Sunfish Class. What has happened is that the Sunfish Class has recently transferred the responsibilities for international and US class administration to One Design Management which is the company operated by Sherri Campbell and Jerelyn Biehl. They have been providing similar services to the North American Laser Class (and other classes I think) for some time.

      Paying for the services of One Design Management is one thing your class subscription is covering. So if you are the kind of sailor who calls them up to file appeals to US Sailing for you, then you certainly should be a class member.

      End of sermon.

      On a lighter note, I'm pleased to hear that Doug is starting to like the Sunfish. I thought it was really weird at first when I first sailed one after several years of sailing a Laser. But it does grow on you. Maybe Doug will qualify for the Sunfish Worlds one day. I enjoyed them at least as much as Laser Masters Worlds.

    3. Thanks for the sermon. Good information to know. I didn't realize that the Laser Class and the Sunfish Class have a management company to run them. I keep hearing that all these people running things are all volunteers and only one or two people are actually getting paid. Glad to hear that Sherri is getting paid and not a volunteer because she sure does cover alot of ground and do alot of work, as I'm sure many others do whose names I haven't come across.

      On the appeal thing, we learned that you send the appeal to US Sailing and they distribute it to the appropriate national authority (class association), if appropriate. If the national authority handles the appeal, there is no fee but if US Sailing ends up handling it, there is a fee to file. Makes sense. I (a member of the class) also added my name to the appeal because having Doug at the finish line keeps me on the race course more than off. And on the rare occasion that I get to wait for him, it's really motivating.

      Interestingly enough, Doug may have qualified for the Sunfish Worlds at this event which are in Peru. But then there is the whole, was he qualified to qualify thing. Either way, the Fish have their hooks in him now.

    4. One Design Management are paid for their services by the North American Laser Class, and the NA Class also pays dues to the International Class which has paid employees. The costs of ODM are about half of the expenses of the NA Class. The other major expenses are printing and posting the Laser Sailor newsletter and the ILCA dues.

      I'm sure Doug could easily qualify for the Sunfish Worlds, if not at this event at one of the other qualifiers. I don't know if it's still true but in the old days they often had to go quite deep in the list of finishers at the NAs and Regional and other qualifying events because some people who qualified didn't want to go, or they were already qualified at other events, or they qualified by virtue of being a previous champion or a class officer. They got so desperate they even invited me to the Worlds three times!

    5. You know ... I just took all of that management stuff for granted. That's not too cool. You've inspired me to find the time to learn more about the goings on behind the scenes. Let's hope I leave the drama out of it.

      So, did you go to the Worlds? If so, how'd you do?

    6. I went to Sunfish Worlds in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Florida between 1996 and 2000. I don't remember exactly what my results were, definitely in the bottom half of the fleet. But I had wonderful times, met lots of amazing people, and saw some places i wouldn't otherwise have visited.

      As far as I recall my only qualification for getting invited to be part of the US team was that I finished just inside the top 40 at the Sunfish NAs in 1995. I don't think I even sailed in a regional qualifier back in those years. As I said, I think they've made it harder to qualify now (partly through a smaller fleet I think) but I'm sure Doug could easily make it.

  2. You pay class membership Before racing and after you finish a race you stay clear from the finish line. Has to do with respect for your fellow competitors and the organizers, married or not...

    1. Yes, the dues thing was a mix-up and an oversight. We had both been paying full dues separately even though we could have been on the same membership and paying half dues for the second person. He thought I added him to my membership when I renewed mine and I couldn't remember doing that so I did not put down a class membership number on his registration assuming they would look it up and sign him up if need be. When he did a thorough search on Monday and could not produce his card, I added him to my membership ... maybe for a second time.

      Doug was well clear of the finish line of any competitors still racing. He was off to the far corner well out of the way but when the wind died completely, there was no steerage and even though he drifted onto the race course, he was still well clear of anyone still racing. It would have taken a competitor a good 10 minutes or more off course to get to where he was.

      Whether or not he was disrespectful, is there an actual rule that he has broken? We were encouraged to appeal by several people as well as a local judge because they believe the rule being cited is being interpreted the wrong way and has already set a bad precedent in the area.


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