Monday, 3 October 2011

ESS Act 7; Nice, France

It was in Nice, but it wasn’t nice anymore.

I’m usually quit capable to find the positive side of and event and write about that. The last couple of days I wasn’t able to do that, so to avoid writing something I would regret later, I skipped posting altogether.

It is now Monday morning and I’m sitting at a corner table in terminal A café LE NIKAIA. My flight is in an hour or so and there’s free WiFi so I’ll be able to post this.

The wind in Nice was a deciding factor – or better said the lack of wind. It frustrated sailors who felt it was “pot luck” on the short courses. It frustrated the RC as they struggled to find reason in starting. It frustrated the Organisers as they wanted to have some races for all the VIP’s that were invited.

In the morning we did some fairly decent races a little way from shore. In the afternoon in front of the spectators and VIP tent it was bad. The Extreme 40s struggled to get some speed, were very slow manoeuvrable and we had multiple boat rounding's (and incidents) at marks. That cumulated in a couple of very dubious manoeuvres by several boats. Almost as if they deliberately were breaking the rules – something that is very hard to prove.

And when we gave a penalty all their frustration came out – you guessed it – against the umpires. I’m well aware that people need to vent their emotions sometimes, but being called an idiot in a five minute rant is un-acceptable. We were very close to getting out the black flag and disqualifying boats.

It didn’t get any better in the next races.

It feels like all the effort we have spend to build up a relationship with the sailors has been wiped away by this behaviour. The CU spoke with several skippers but found them uncooperative and emotional.

We will let things cool off and pick this up in Almeria next week. But the border has been reached. If this happens again, it will have consequences.

I’ll prepare some scenario’s to go over the rules involved.

I’ve qualified to stay an International Umpire by passing the test, but this time it was no fun being one…..

Until next time,



  1. I never feld to think an umpire is an idiot. Even if the umpire is an idiot, it is part of good match racing to deal with it. A good sailor should use that in his advantage. Throwing my frustration at an umpire never made me sail faster.

    Jos, I know you are not an idiot.

  2. Sorry to hear, Jos. FWIW, be firm and trust your judgement.

  3. When I watch football, all the calls against my team are clearly made by idiots, and those against our opponent are inspired works of analytical brilliance.

  4. Bennet Greenwald6 October 2011 at 03:59

    From Scuttlebutt 3442:
    * From Bennet Greenwald, San Diego, CA:
    It was "Only a Matter of Time" (Butt 3441) all right. It was only a matter of time before pro sailors bitched when there is no wind. Umpire Jos Spijkerman empathizes with sailors "frustrated" by no wind and complains about being called an idiot. Jos, you may be a great umpire but you should have seen this one coming.

    Money is involved here. It was only a matter of time before competitors started whining and cursing at umpires. Pro sailors are frustrated about no wind??? Try explaining it is sailing - and the poor babies have to deal with it. You certainly recall that there is money being paid to the complainers. So called professionals in every "sport" (is it "sport"? - see Dr. Johnson for the definition) try to influence financial outcomes complaining about rules interpretations.

    Umpires are human and make mistakes. Pros become even more childish when their money might be taken away through human error. If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen because as the funds increase so will the abuse you receive - and no one cares if you are abused - you get paid and benefits. Sailing can always be frustrating but it is not and will not be a spectator sport until we get people killed and injured regularly and on TEEVEE. Jos you helped make this bed. Lie in it - or use the black flag as you should.

  5. From Scuttlebutt 3443:
    * From John Alofsin, Newport RI:
    Regarding the comments made by competitors to the judges, in other pro sports if an athlete calls an official "an idiot" then he/she is tossed from the event and fined as well. There should be no hesitation by a judge to do the same in sailing - professional or otherwise. What are kids going to think if they see the sport's elite calling judges names with no consequences? If pro sailors misbehave then they should be punished where it hurts - in the wallet.

  6. I agree with John Alofsin and disagree strongly with Bennett Greenwald.

    Bad behaviour is not an inevitable consequence of professionalisation or mass marketing of sailing as a spectator sport UNLESS WE LET IT BE.

    ISAF should public adopt and endorse policies that, regardless of any marketing or media advice about making the sport more interesting or more exciting:

    1. 'Bad-boy' behaviour, abuse of race officials and unsporting conduct will not be tolerated, and the normal standards of rules 2 and 69 is to be rigourously enforced, equally against both individual competitors and boats.

    2. Crash and burn racing will not be promoted or tolerated, and rule 14 is to be rigourously enforced.

    ISAF should publish and publicise the above policies, in particular:

    1. They should be applied to any negotiations between ISAF and promoters in connection with highly publicised principal events.

    2. They should be publicised by ISAF as widely as possible, on the ISAF Website, and in specific guidance material to be provided to Race Officers, Umpires and Judges.


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