By Thorsten Döbbeler
CHANGE OF DIRECTION?
In the current version of the case book, updated November 13, 2011, there is no case 78. Currently, case 78 reads:
As a result of action taken by the ISAF Council on 12 November 2011, Case 78 has been withdrawn for revision."
The story behind that is that the Irish Sailing Association filed a submission to the ISAF annual meeting to change case 78.
Submission 259-11: http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/25911RRSNewCase78-%5B11191%5D.pdf
You will notice that the wording of this submission is almost the wording of the new Q&A. The submission was accepted, but instead of directly replacing case 78, it was made a Q&A, while case 78 was "suspended".
The new Q&A A001 is replacing the old Q&A A001. Q&A Booklet:
So, no case was amended or changed.
Case 78, which was binding, was replaced by a Q&A, which is a recommendation.
Still, we have a change of direction in my opinion.
The situation we had before the annual meeting was that we had case 78, referring to a "series" and we had the old Q&A A01 that clarified on the term "series".
The old Q&A states:
"... For the purpose of ISAF Case 78, a race or series is restricted to those races governed by a notice of race as published by the organizing authority for the race under consideration. ..."
Last version of the Q&A booklet before the change: http://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/QAbookletNovember52010-%5B9631%5D.pdf
In my opinion case 78 and the old Q&A A01 meant that if you started "match racing" for your Olympic selection, could run you into problems easily.
The situation we now have, is we only have the new Q&A A01, which goes in the other direction. This means we had not exactly a rules change, but a change of direction in which to go.
The German Sailing Federation (DSV) and the Olympic Sailing Council (OSA) agree that GER 21 did win the Olympic trials according to the RRS and according to the regulations of the German Olympic trials. Those regulations were written well in advance of the three events that counted for German Olympic trials (Sail for Gold in Weymouth, Kiel Week and Olympic Worlds in Perth) and it was agreed that those regulations were fair and transparent towards all competitors.
Those regulations did not prohibit "match racing" as in Q&A A01. Hence, GER 21 is recommended to the German Olympic Sports Association (DOSB) to be sent to London. RRS and regulations for the German Olympic trials are clear on this.
On the perception in the German sailing community: While the German newspaper that is quoted is a serious newspaper, the story they printed did not precisely reflect the way the German sailing community perceived what happened. The story he printed seems somewhat one sided. If you understand German, you might find the articles and comments on segelreporter.com interesting. Some 5 or 6 articles with tons of comments on that topic. To summarize in short, most people recognize that GER 21 acted according to the RRS.
However, the German sailing community does not seem to agree on the moral aspect. Some think that from a moral point of view, GER 21 should not be allowed to go to London. Others think that everything that is allowed under the RRS should be morally ok as well.
Both points of view were discussed in the comments very controversy.
Most moderate and realistic opinions were that while this way of winning the Olympic trials was not nice, it was according to the rules and nothing could (and should) be done about it. Next Olympic trials should take care of situations like this, though. GER 21 gave an interview in Perth saying that this is "no nice fight, but according to the rules, it is allowed".
GER 61 earned much sympathy for their good performance in their "free" races in Perth. They earned even more sympathy for the fact that, in the last race in Perth, they won the Olympic ticket for German 470 sailors (nation criteria), knowing that it most likely will be the ticket of GER 21.
As to the "lawyer case": Some people seem to think that taking this to court is basically the same as what GER 21 did - do everything possible within the rules and fight hard. Many others think that going to court is no option at all. GER 21 would waste the sympathies they earned - they should accept the decision that was made by the German Sailing Association (DSV), according to the rules.
These points of view are again discussed - I have the impression, though, that the "court is a no-go" opinion overweighs a little.
This is probably not a complete overview, it is only what I understood and noted.
What I posted above is my personal view and does probably not reflect the opinions of any majority or of the DSV, OSA or DOSB. Just trying to give some background here. ;)