Rule change reflects the impact of team

Published on June 6th, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The strength of a one design class organization resides in its ability to confront issues that may strain the enthusiasm of its members. Encouraging competition and comradery requires a skillful hand, and with the rapid progress experienced by the J/70 Class, the leadership has had to confront issues to maintain that balance.

A J/70 Rule proposal was recently approved that reflects the reality in how class racing involves whole teams, not just owners and drivers. The new Rule has two parts. The first requires crew members who are professional sailors to become members of the J/70 Class. The second requires crew members to be listed in entry lists and results. The rationale for these changes is as follows:

Professional sailors as Class members
With the tremendous growth and popularity of the J/70 Class, there has been a significant influx of professional sailors into the Class. The involvement of professional sailors has been a significant contributor to the strength of the Class because of the expertise and knowledge they willingly and freely share with the Class and its members, and because of the exciting high level of racing that they provide.

Consistent with their important involvement in the Class, it would be beneficial if they extended their involvement by becoming Class members.

In those extremely rare cases where some discipline might be required, the Class would have the ability to impose limitations on their participation. (This provision would apply to all crew except those who are classified Group 1 under World Sailing’s regulations. Many professional sailors choose not to be classified Group 3, and choose instead to simply remain unclassified, so they would be covered by this Rule.)

Naming all crew members in entry lists and results
It is important for the public to see the names of all crew members who are participating in an event, so that people are aware of the high level of racing in the Class. More importantly, every member of the crew is an important contributor to the results of the competing team, and should be given appropriate recognition for their efforts.

Where the rules permit the participation of paid professional sailors, I would suggest other groups to consider similar changes. It is in the pro sailors’ best interest for the organization to remain healthy, and that is best done when people are invested. As for naming the crew, aside from the reason’s mentioned, this may also eliminate any pre-event gamesmanship wherein owners are not revealing the pro crew they have hired.

For more on the debate over professional sailors in our amateur sport, and how classes and events are coming to terms with competitive sailing’s changing landscape, click here.

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