Playing by the rules

Published on March 11th, 2013

From John Rumsey:
Regarding Craig Fletcher’s comments in Scuttlebutt 3792, I remember when personal integrity was the norm in sailing. In the Star Class, when I sailed in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, there were seldom protests. If someone broke a rule they withdrew from the race.

In the 1963 Star Class World Championship in Chicago, Americans Malin Burnham and Jim Reynolds were leading the series when in the fourth race they hit the last weather mark with their boom. They were leading the fleet by a large margin, no one was near enough to see the foul but they withdrew from that race because it was the right thing to do.

Had Malin and Jim continued and finished first they would have won the Championship by 14 pts. It was a five race series with all races counting, and their withdrawal dropped them to seventh (1-3-8-wdr-1). That is what is missing in much of life these days, people doing the right thing when no one is looking.

From Paul Miller – St Maarten:
Regarding his comment in Scuttlebutt 3792, I’m not sure where Craig Fletcher is sailing that he encounters such disregard for the rules, but here in Sint Maarten where we have just had our big annual regatta, the Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta, we witnessed just the opposite of what he describes. We saw two top competitors who made the same mistake: missing a mark.

No-one shouted ‘protest’, and no-one complained to any official, but both of these top-level competitors (great Caribbean sailor Jaime Torres of Smile and Wave 2, and Angus Ball of the beautiful Gunboat Cocoa de Mer) having learned of their mistake, retired. Had they not retired, they would both have stood on the podium and collected top prizes but both recognised a concept that I think is really very wide-spread in sailing: that, to quote Paul Elvström, “You haven’t won the race, if in winning the race you have lost the respect of your competitors”.

At least here in Sint Maarten, sailing sportsmanship is intact.

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