Thursday, 19 January 2012

German Consequences (2)

Somehow yesterdays post was not included in the feed; I.m reposting the text again and will delete (except for a link) the old post

Recently a ISAF Q&A was published and that changed the interpretation of Case 78. I'm referring to
Q&A 2011-022 A001. Here's the text:
In a fleet race, Boat A adopts tactics that clearly interfere with and hinder Boat B's progress in the race. While using those tactics, boat A does not break any rule, except possibly rule 2.

In which of the following circumstances would Boat A’s tactics be considered unsportsmanlike and a breach of rule 2?
(a) Boat A’s tactics benefit her series result.
(b) Boat A’s tactics increase her chances of gaining selection for another event. *
(c) Boat A’s tactics increase her chances of gaining selection to her national
     team. *

(d) Boat A and Boat C had agreed that they would both adopt tactics that
     benefited Boat C’s series result.
(e) Boat A was attempting to worsen Boat B’s race or series score for reasons
     unconnected with sport.
* (my highlight)
In circumstances (a), (b) and (c), Boat A would be in compliance with recognised principles of sportsmanship and fair play because there is a sporting reason for her actions.
In circumstance (d), both Boat A and Boat C would clearly break rule 2. In addition, by receiving help prohibited by rule 41 from Boat A, Boat C would also break rule 41.
In circumstance (e) Boat A would break rule 2 because, with no good sporting

For good measure:
Case 78 states: (but will be amended according to the wording in the Q&A):

Rule 2, Fair Sailing
Rule A2, Series Scores

A boat may position herself in a tactically controlling position over another boat and then slow that boat’s progress so that other boats pass both of them, provided that, if she is protested under rule 2 for doing so, the protest committee finds that that there was a reasonable chance of her tactic benefiting her series result. However, she breaks rule 2 if she intentionally breaks another rule to increase the likelihood of the tactic succeeding.
Go to (pillow)Case of the Week 35 If you want to read the whole case.

As highlighted in the Q&A, the change is in (b) and (c). The number of 'sporting reasons' is increased to include selection for another event or national team.

My Google alert showed that this is something that is now heavily under debate in Germany. Specifically for the Woman 470 selection for the Olympics. An article in the sports section of a newspaper called: Frankfurter Allgemeine:

For those of you who don't read German: The article states that one of the teams - loosing the selection to go to the Olympics - has hired a 'high profile' sports advocate to go after the German MNA 'Deutsche Segler Verband' (DSV) to try to reverse its decision to send the other team to Weymouth.

Why is this happening?

At the World Championship 2011 in Perth the two boats had a final change to score points for qualification. One of the boats (GER21) made sure by blocking the progress of the other boat (GER 61) that they would do badly in the regatta and more importantly, would loose the selection to go to the Olympics. GER 61 protested and the International Jury gave its verdict: From the protest summary:

© picture alliance / dpa
GER 61 in front of GER 21
P113 (Closed) 470 Women;  Race 8, Protestor: GER 61, Protestee: GER 21, Witness: Tracking system, About RRS 2, date hearing: 16 DEC 2011/18:15, Decision: Protest Dismissed.

The International Jury found that GER 21 had indeed blocked the progress of GER 61 but not by breaking any rules and for the reasons mentioned under (b) and/or (c). Protest was dismissed.

But the consequence was very dramatic for the Crew of GER 61. The final standing in Perth might even have direct influence on their status (read support and money) in the national team.

In the newspaper article the lawyer states:
" The DSV and the (also to be dragged into this fight German Olympic Committee) Deutsche Olympische Sportbund (DOSB) should use there own selection rules and not the recently changed interpretation by ISAF in this case"
"GER 21 should be banned from participating in Weymouth for using this blocking tactic" That would mean automatic qualification for his client.
And in a related article in the same newspaper, the helms-woman of GER 61 declared:
"Some countries have forbidden the sailors of their national teams to use these blocking tactics
The German MNA, Deutsche Segler Verband defended their position on their website (here)

The OSA (The German Olympic Selection Committee) came, after extensive discussion and advice and in light of earlier decisions, unanimously to the same conclusion as the International Jury.

It is now up to the DOSB to make the final decision who's representing Germany in the 2012 Olympics.

Basically the problem boils down to the fact that the selection regulations/criteria in most countries were written long before this new interpretation was published. And therfore didn't take in account that changed interpretation. Sailors will use the rule that most suits their interest - and who can blame that?

Perhaps it would have been better to have waited with this particular Q&A until after the Olympics?
What do you think?


  1. AnonymousJan 18, 2012 09:55 PM

    I agree that it may perhaps be better for the Q and A panel NOT to issue answers that either change or add to existing cases. This only causes confusion as to the validity of the answer. If an answer they are going to give does add or change and existing interpretation then they should act in the same way as any other body by making an appropiate submission that is properly reviewed and discussed at the ISAf annual meeting. ISAF then determne whether an immediate change is necessary or if it can (or should) wait until the next rule cycle.

    1. Jos Jan 18, 2012 11:26 PM

      You could also argue that because the selections for the OG were coming the ISAF wanted to have this in place...
      The problem for the Jury/PC is that if a protest is handed in based on these premises, they will have to check if the blocking was of benefit for selection and that means they will have to 'judge' selection criteria of the nation involved. I'm fairly fluent in spoken German, but to check a German document dealing with selection criteria is a whole other ballgame. That would be difficult.

  2. First and foremost, I do believe it was the right thing for ISAF to clarify (rather than change) the question what was covered under the term "series". Therefore, the timing was right.
    Secondly, I see the main problem on another aspect: due to these tactics the value of the most import regatta for the 470 class - their World Championship - has been devaluated. MNAs such as the DSV were spending tenthousends of Euros to bring the teams and their equipment there and then, the competitors do not race for the title, they were only blocking the others to score a decent result; and this is something nobody in the "real" world can understand this.
    I believe that ISAF should take a position to not allow World Championships or similar high profile regattas to be used for national selection.
    Although the German case is the best known case in this context, there were other cases at the ISAF Worlds in Perth, where top level competitors from the same country were protesting each other to gain advantage in the national selection process.

    1. I don't think that adopting a different set of rules for high profile regattas is the way to go.
      This Q&A might not have changed, but rather have clarified the meaning of 'series', but I doubt many sailors would have gone as far as they have now without it.

  3. Case 78 refers to "series result" rather than "series score". A boat's "series score" is defined by rule A2. The rules do not define a "series result"

    One could argue that in this case the "series result" for both German boats was selection or non-selection for the Olympics. In which case it was not unsportsmanlike for GER21 to ensure, without breaking any rules, that GER61 had no chance to qualify.

    If this argument is accepted the Q&A does not change the interpretation set out in case 78, but merely makes clear that specific instances when the "series result" may be more, or other than, the "series score"


    1. I know this Q&A was written to clarify rather than change. In that light I agree with the publication.
      But I doubt the consequences now emerging - countries scrambling to check there selection criteria, countries forbidding these tactics, etc - were considered before publishing.
      Many countries are very unhappy that individual 'gain' is now stronger then scoring a good result for the team or nation.

  4. Just an FYI: Case 78 was officially withdrawn the day the Q&A was published...

    1. Thanks. I showed the case to illustrate the difference.


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