Hidden Water Tank Leads to Misconduct Decision
Published on April 4th, 2017
While Part 2 of the Racing Rules of Sailing – When Boats Meet – provides the guidance for our self-policing sport, it is the tenets of Part 1 that lay the groundwork. Critical among these principles in Part 1 is Fair Sailing.
In the rule book it states that “A boat and her owner shall complete in compliance with recognized principles of sportsmanship and fair play. A boat may be penalized under this rule only if it is clearly established that these principles have been violated.”
An incident at the 2016 ORC European Championship was found to have met this standard.
An International Jury recently found that Vincenzo de Blasio’s NM 38S Scugnizza deliberately broke RRS 2, RRS 78.1, and ORC Rating System Rule 304.3a and was thus in breach of RRS 69.1(a) and disqualified from all races of the regatta.
Scugnizza’s RRS 69 (Misconduct) issue arose due to the apparent installation of hidden water tanks under the cockpit to affect extreme stern-down trim for measurement. At the event the measurers confirmed the boat was in this trim in accordance with their certificate, but did not find the tanks.
However, when sailing the boat did not appear to be in stern-down trim, but level trim, and many photographs of the boat sailing confirmed this.
ORC did numerous calculations to demonstrate the weight and volume of water needed to get to this unusual measurement trim, and how it was not possible to achieve this without some additional amount of undeclared ballast.
Scugnizza tried to claim that they could achieve level sailing trim by placing items such as anchors in the forepeak while racing, but even the weight of these items in this position was insufficient to put the boat in level trim for racing.
While not admitted as evidence, there was also before and after photos taken of the interior of the boat with the tanks in place and them having been removed immediately after the European championship and prior to their next event, the Italian championship, which the boat was re-measured for, had a substantial rating increase, and competed to finish only 7th in class.
It’s unfortunate this team was not caught at the event and the matter dealt with then, but the measurers could be forgiven for having missed the tanks because they were partially obscured by the wheel well under the cockpit.
Any further punishment is now in the hands of the Italian Sailing Federation.
NOTE: Jury decision is posted here.