Maintaining the Integrity of the Game

Published on November 13th, 2017

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
One design racing provides a level of competition that, in theory, is a pure measure of the sailors. But critical to this test is the rules of the game, specifically, the measurement rules of the boat.

One design classes vary on their measurement tolerances, but all boats have sweet spots. Success on the race course begins with ensuring the equipment is prepared in a manner that maximizes the allowable tolerances.

And there is the rub. If a little is good, often crossing the line is better. Infractions are often subtle, so what is it that ensures class competitors are playing within the limits?

Culture: When a class lacks a social structure to foster friendships, we are more apt to participate with less respect for our competitors. Healthy activity requires fair and fun play on and off the water.

Witness: Like other aspects of our increasingly frightening world, when you “see something, say something.” Our sport is based on self-policing, and measurement management falls within that realm.

Championships: A boat is often measured at birth but not again unless it attends a major championship that includes a measurement stage. This is generally the only time the innocent errors and unwise audacity get discovered.

Pietro Fantoni, Vice Commodore of the International Snipe Class, comments on measurement:
Compliance with Class Rules is critical to ensure that a Class does not lose credibility. If class rules are not respected and they are not enforced, there can be an escalation of fraud (more and more people cheat), and also a disenchantment among those who respect the rules and no longer appreciate this game without rules.

For the rules to be respected, the rules must be well written in a clear and precise manner.

But this is often not enough. It is necessary that they are actually effectively respected. If the rule is not respected and eventually becomes ineffective, it loses its function and the structure of the Class is altered. This can create deep tensions among the members.

What makes Class rules effective is the way in which people feel it runs with their interests and not against them. The purpose of the measurements is to ensure that all sailors are able to compete at the same level, avoiding any doubt that someone is cheating. The measurements are the guarantees of the rules of the game and the measurers are the allies of the correct and fair competitor.

At the 2017 Worlds in Spain, the work of the measurers was excellent. They worked for a total of 6 days for hours and hours to check 23 boats for the Junior Worlds and 85 for the Senior Worlds. We all have to thank the measurers and the volunteers for their hard work!

However, we can improve the measurement process. Six days is perhaps too much because the measurement – even if needed – tangle competitors, measurers, volunteers and, if they last for many days, affect the cost of the event for the organizers.

In addition, competitors often have limited vacation days and would prefer to spend their time on the race course (or at the club with friends) rather than stay in a queue for hours waiting for boat, mast, boom, pole, sails to be checked.
Without a doubt, Pietro is right in how measurement at major championships is inconvenient and disruptive, and he notes that the class will look at how they may expedite the process without losing its purpose. However achieved, the integrity of the game must be maintained, for without that, there is no game.

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