Thursday, 15 October 2009

LTW Readers Q&A | 030 One crew-member less?

Received the following question from Luigi – already some time ago:


Hello Jos,

I don't know if it could be interesting for your blog, but I had an interesting situation in a MR some weeks ago.

One boat had a problem with one member (crew of 5) and was not able to replace. The OA wasn't able to help them so, in the second day of the event and with 8 flights of the RR done, they asked, in the morning during the meeting, permission to compete with one member less then the other boats.

In the NOR was stated, as usual: "The crew will be 4 in case of full male or mixed crew (including skipper) and 5 in case of full female crew (including skipper) and the total weight of crew, measured wearing T-shirt and shorts, shall not exceed 350 kg."

The OA said it was not a problem for them, to let the team race with 4 crew-members. The others skippers said the same.

The jury decided to allow them to race with 4.

To be complete I have to tell you that at the last moment they found a replacement crew and they raced in 5. But the decision of the jury was done anyway.

Your opinion?




Well Luigi, I’m afraid I’ve to disagree with the decision of this jury. I would have voted NO to the request of the boat. Even when all other boats agreed. Perhaps it is a disadvantage to race with four, perhaps it’s an advantage. It will depend on the weather and wind conditions, type of boat and all other variables. But the ‘contract’ as worded in the NOR, stated clearly the conditions. These were not met with one crew member missing. So, five on board or forfeit.

I could be in the minority on this…..

What do other LTW-readers think? Leave a comment and convince me to change my vote.


Ooh, have YOU already voted on the poll? Only 3 days left!
Read blogpost: Continues in the Race - or - Racing?


  1. I had a weight problem with a team earlier this year which is like the crew number you had.

    I want happy competitors, and a good event for those competing.

    I allowed the boat to sail when overweight, but informed the others.

    It is the same here, why disrupt what the competitors want?

    If the competitors are happy, let the racing go on. I see that you let the boat race with 4, with it open to the other teams or jury to protest if in the conditions the less crew starts to affect the results. See later you could require/request them to carry additional weight.

    With my overweight crew I said if we had a protest under 6.6 then we may give no penalty if there was a crew always in the boat and not on deck, if the full crew were on deck we would consider a penalty. By the semi final we had a substitute crew so the weight was not an issue.

    I believe we can innovate and keep the racing going using the rules.

    Mike Butterfield

  2. I think this is one of those situations where you have to consider what sailing is all about and why we do it, rather than apply the strict letter if the law.

    We race to have fun and compete with our friends and see how good we can be. We want our friends to be able to continue sailing the whole regatta if at all possible. It was clear that everyone at the regatta wanted to allow these four sailors to continue racing so I think the right decision was made.

    At the end of the day, the objective is for everyone to have good competition in a manner that everyone agrees is fair.

  3. Jos - can't disagree with your analysis but I think some times it is worth asking "what's best for the sport?" ... is it better that they are out competing or stuck ashore? I know it's a difficult one and opens up opportunities for abuse (p'raps it is favourable to have 4) but it seems unlikely here as all parties assented.


  4. I think the Jury was correct. The weight limit is a maximum limit and contrary to Mike above I would not allow a boat to sail overweight as this is almost always an advantage. There is not one top match racer who would not like to have his crew at maximum weight.
    In regards to Luigi's case then the girls sailing with 4 are losing out in two ways. They have less weight AND less hands. No advantage over the other crews. Everyone happy so the Jury does not need to make a problem.
    The key to these cases is full and proper consutation.
    There is nothing wrong in using a bit of that most uncommon comodity - common sense.

  5. Well friends, i reed your post (until now) and i disagree with the decision of the Jury.
    If you allow crews to sail with a person less (it's not only a problem of weight..) there is no sense in writing the limit (number AND weight) in the SI.
    My opinion is also supported by the idea thant we try to have all the same equal and fair condition for all. If one crew loose a winch handle on water we are very fast to keep the one from the boat of his opponent and for the same reason we can not allow to sail in more or less numbers of people. If we start with this behaviour, EVERY competion will be decided in a different way. The excuse "we did it for the sport" does not works because even the others competitors complain with the rules and those must be the same for all.
    We do not allow someone to race with a different spinnaker; this is the same.
    If you are not able to find a replacement,.. well... unlucky, not well organized.. but happens

  6. Hello Luigi!

    I think, there is place for two decisions:
    1. If we have a championship or a regatta up to this grade, NO.
    2. If we have an event at club level or with clubs of the same lake, may be for learning, for fun or so, why not. It is not correct, but we learned, that the sailors are our clients - customers. And if all sailors say yes, I agree with the jury.

    Wolfgang Hofmann


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