Tuesday, July 03, 2012

When the race committee doesn't do its job, you should
__ ram and sink the RC signal boat
__ request redress on behalf of all fleets for RC errors and omissions
__ volunteer to help train the RC
__ organize a group of like-minded racers to tell the organizing authority (club board and officers) that their RC is an embarrassment
(your choice/other/more ideas below)
__ fuhgeddaboutit, they’re only volunteers trying to do a hard job for no pay, you miserable ungrateful bozos
__ the RC help is obviously underpaid or corrupt, so find out how much of a tip your crew chief needs to leave them
__ shame on you lazy whiners for not volunteering for RC to see how hard it is
__ quietly find out the source of the problem and work with the club to fix it
__ cut off the grog ration for any RC members who fail to perform; make them walk the plank (after putting chum in the water) for repeated offenses, and issue the RC chair a cat o’ nine tails

Sailboat racing should be fun. It usually is when the racing is run well, but quality of experience can sink quickly if there are serious race committee problems.
Requesting redress against an under-performing race committee isn’t as straightforward as protesting a foul by another boat. To get redress, you have the burden of showing that the RC’s errors or omissions have hurt your score through no fault of your own. But that proof can be hard to come by if the RC has muddied the waters with poor decisions in running the races, or if the RC has failed to keep accurate time and records, or if the scoring process is secretive or riddled with mistakes.
To many rules questions, in addition to the racing rules of sailing answer, there may be a tactical answer (“luff up before the overtaking boat gets close to windward”) and sometimes a social or political answer. And, if the rules don’t have a very good mechanism for solving the problem, the answer may be outside the rules.
It may be possible to work with other racers, especially fleet captains and leaders who have a reason to want the races to be run well, to document the problems and work them up the chain. It may turn out that the problem was relatively isolated – green group of RC volunteers, personal emergency distracting the scorer, etc. Or, the problem in the RC could be part of other, bigger problems in a club.

The best answer may depend on WHY the RC is having problems. Perhaps:
The club running the races has few resources, is short on volunteers, is cut off from mainstream racing, doesn’t have a training program for RC volunteers, doesn’t have much focus on racing, or recently lost the services of people who knew what they were doing.
Or, the club does have good resources and knowledge, but the RC is lazy, run by “good old boys (and/or girls)”, has problems with favoritism and bad blood, or just can’t be bothered.
If the first group of problems – lack of resources, training, and commitment – applies, then volunteering and enlisting other volunteers to help is a good answer. Being gentle and appreciative of volunteers is appropriate, even if they are screwing up.
But if the problem is simply a bad attitude on the RC’s part, then education may not be enough. It may take intensive intervention with a club’s board, or some forcible counseling of the race committee chair, rabble raising among the club’s racers and members, or, unfortunately, leaving for a club that values running races competently, fairly, and safely.
The racing rules assume that a club or race organizer wants and intends to run races correctly. In the real world, besides occasional mistakes, there can be ongoing issues of bad attitude or lack of resources. The mechanisms for fixing these issues may be mostly outside the framework of the rules.
So what do you think?


At 1:43 PM, July 05, 2012, Blogger SailNauti said...

Perexactly Pat!

I couldn't have said it better... and I say lots of Nauti things.

Spot on!


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