Strong Class Culture Prevents Cheating

Published on September 11th, 2017

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
Managing one design classes can be a b#tch. Just ask the J/70 class right now as they roll up their sleeves and deal with measurement issues at the 2017 J/70 World Championship to be held September 12 to 16 in Porto Cervo, Sardinia.

The challenge for a single manufacturer one design class like the J/70 is consistently building boats that are all equal in performance. And when class rules limit changes to the boat and build tolerances are not known, people get curious about equality.

These conditions are all well and good, but given the explosive international growth of this class, and the inclusion of elite professional sailors, tweaks for speed have been a growing concern. After the 2016 Worlds in San Francisco, there was dock talk whether the class administration had the nerve to deal with a situation that appeared to be worse in Europe.

The J/70 class delivered the answer on the eve of the first race as seven boats were rejected due to modification to their keels beyond what is permitted in the rules. This comes from the event:
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Following recent irregular modifications discovered during the 2017 Worlds measurement process, the J/70 Italian Class wishes to make a statement regarding the situation:

With the benefit of past experience and recognizing the need to maintain the strictest One-Design standards, the current Council has invested in two new measurers with the knowledge and tools necessary to ensure the strictest compliance with Class Rules.

Thanks to this foresight and the oversight of the International J/70 Class, the Porto Cervo Worlds measurement process highlighted the non-compliance of some boats, especially regarding keel irregularities.

The Class Regulations leave no room for interpretation. No modification is allowed to J/70s other than minor repairs of imperfections and blemishes.

Those who were found with irregularities at the time of measurement clearly violated the Class Rules by giving themselves an illegal advantage over the fleet. Those early rules violations also may have influenced other owners. In any case, these violations are also a breach of the values of sportsmanship and fairness on which the J/70 Italian Class is founded.

The Italian Class has immediately sought further investigation of the situation and has requested that the Organizing Authority and the International Jury express their opinion on the eligibility of all boats in question at the Audi J/70 World Championship.

Regardless of whether the boats are accepted by the Worlds Organizers, the Italian J/70 Class reserves the right to take disciplinary actions against Italian Class Members responsible for illegal tampering with their boats.
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In fairness, pushing the rules is not a problem exclusive to the J/70 class. Every sector of our sport has dealt with offenders. Some people just struggle with limitations, and their pursuit for performance blurs the lines. Hopefully a stronger class culture can provide needed clarity going forward.

UPDATE: Five of the seven boats that had been rejected due to measurement violations had filed for redress, and all five had their request for redress denied.

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