A Discussion on Corinthian Values

Published on November 2nd, 2017

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
I am a huge fan of the Inland Lake Yachting Association (ILYA) as its values and virtues are grounded in what is good for the sport. Through its member clubs in the Midwest (and in Texas and New York), the respect for the game keeps the game good.

But a nationwide cultural shift often puts the ‘me’ in front of the ‘we’, and when the ILYA got a whiff of this change they promptly circled the wagons to address the situation. That’s leadership!

At the ILYA annual meeting on October 28-29, in addition to the presentation of their Annual Awards, there was a day of discussion regarding the spirit of fair sailing. Scowlines, the publication of the ILYA, reports on the meeting.

The problem came to light in the 2017 season, particularly at the Optimist Dinghy regatta, to a lesser degree at the X Championships and then again at the ILYA Champs at Lake Geneva.

At Lake Geneva a small core of leadership met to review first-time concerns related to the execution of rules. It was determined some discussion was warranted.

The discussion was centered in three areas: identifying the presence of a problem, determining the root cause of the problem and implementing change which restores us to our values. The engaged audience generated honest, concerned discussion. To a person, the following exemplifies the spirit of the four-hour session:

“This is at our core – Corinthian values. We are clubs grounded in families, friendships that are intergenerational. There should be a noticeable difference at each 2018 regatta; sportsmanship permeates all the ILYA does.”

One of the vocal parents was Kara Krause of Pewaukee who will serve on the Sportsmanship committee:
“There has been a shift in the culture of sports in general. We talk about the Inland as a unique organization, which we are. We sail against each other; we come and enjoy each other. To change our culture may take as long as the decline began.

“We are going to need a commitment throughout the whole organization – in both the youth and adult fleets. Do we want to preserve our culture? We need to tackle in on all fronts. We need leadership from the organization to remind us of who we are. Remind us of our values. There are many now who did not grow up in the sport or the Inland – we need to teach them who we are.”

And her mother Marilyn Krause:
“We have and understand our expectations at all levels – how do we not know the rules? The ILYA sets the standard, clubs need to buy in and carry out the expectations. Competitors, parents, race committee, instructors – we all need to meet our standard or expectations. This is who we are and this is what we do.”

A full report will be published and a small committee will implement the action items for the 2018 season, but the salient (and not comprehensive) points are listed in part below:
1 – Sportsmanship is of PRIME concern to the leadership of the ILYA. It is part of our innate value system. Nothing other than full compliance is the expectation. No tolerance for bad behavior will be accepted. We feel we have a centuries-long set of values and performance. There is no compromise.
2 – Behavior is changing in both the youth and adult fleets. Both need to be addressed. Behavior is changing at regattas and on home lakes. Any effort to education and re-align must include every sailor, every club, and every regatta. No exceptions.
3 – Behaviors are multifactorial. There is not an intent in the vast majority of cases to deliberately broach the rules.

• Youth have not learned all the innuendo of rules. Consider first year sailors’ ability to learn rules and execute.
• In homelake sailing, skill level is more disparate. Lakes want to encourage new sailors entering the sport but they don’t have the knowledge base to properly execute on the water.

• Adults have a system of tolerance that works among friends. Longterm friendships perhaps evolve into a sense of forgiveness or oversight.
• We have a culture of no protest.
• Social is important – I’d rather be socializing than in protest room.
• The attitude in many, many sports today is winning at all costs. Has that pervaded the sport of sailing?
• Modeling – If the adults don’t take penalties, why should the youth? Fortunately, more of our youth are on adult boats. What attitudes are they mimicking?

• Older adults do not have the mobility of a younger sailor and thus get into precarious situations unintentionally.
• Inland water vagaries – wind shifted at mark, not my fault.
• RC inconsistencies – at home “they” don’t set the course properly; how was I to come into that mark?

Rules – have rules changed affecting compliance?
• Retiring after finishing was much more common in “the old days.”
• Penalties were steeper – 20-50% so we sailed more conservatively.
• Sailing is more aggressive now – team racing, high school and college sailing.
• Two-turns penalties are lesser penalty – it is a conscious loosening. Attitudes have changed. Is it easier to hit the mark and do turns than wait in line on the starboard approach? And now many of our fleets use a single turn penalty.

Implementation – a small committee will develop a plan for immediate execution. Many, many suggestions were made for all levels of sailing. Watch for rules seminars at your local club, an increased level of involvement by judges at our regattas, more instruction at regattas, a concerted effort to engage a commitment by our many invested sailing components – clubs, RC, sailors – all will be actively joining together to commit openly to sailing clean.

To read the full report of the ILYA Sportsmanship meeting…click here.

The report is a compilation of the the thirty-one sailors who expressed opinions. You will see some contradiction in statements which are simply different expressions. The audience included views from parents, sailors, RC, sailing school directors, coaches. It was robust and lively as we strive to return to our heritage of fair sailing as our norm.

In 2018, the Inland WILL restore the value of Corinthian sailing, sail with a sense of fair play, educate about the rules and kindly return to the self-policing, respectful nature of the sport of sailing.

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