Aug 23, 2017
By Lynne Beal
People from parents to coaches to boat professionals to weather experts all support competitors in their efforts to race their boats. As of 2017, World Sailing’s Racing Rules of Sailing have brought support persons into the game in new ways, with new obligations for them and the competitors they support. Now, each competitor and boat owner agrees that their support persons, including the parents of child competitors, are bound by the racing rules. That includes the hovering coaches, vigilant from the sidelines of the fleet – you’ve probably seen them at dinghy regattas particularly when kids are involved.
These rule changes make a difference in how support persons are expected to behave at sailing competitions. If they work on a boat on behalf of the competitor, they must work within the class rules, and obey any reasonable request by a race official. If they go afloat, they must stay outside of the racing area, and not interfere with boats that are racing. If they are dissatisfied with how a race is run or scored, or with the outcome of a hearing, they must behave in a civil manner. No bullying, harassment or melt-downs.
If support persons interfere with racing, or commit an act of misconduct that is linked to the sailing competition, they can be held accountable for their actions. They may be called to a hearing with the protest committee, which could result in sanctions to the support persons. They could lose the privilege of entering the venue where racing is being held, or be reported to their national authority for an act of misconduct.
This November, World Sailing will consider further amendments to the Racing Rules of Sailing to make a clear path for a boat to be penalized through a hearing if a support person is in breach of a rule, is un-sportsman-like, or commits an act of misconduct. The competitor could be warned. Or, if the competitor has gained an advantage through the support person’s actions, their boat could be penalized in the race or series.
Support persons are vital benefactors of our sport. Don’t be the parent who gets expelled from the venue for behavior you would never accept from your children.
Lynne Beal: Lynne Beal is a Canadian International Judge and Chairman of the Sail Canada Appeals Committee. She has judged at events from club racing to the Olympic Games, at home and on six continents. She brings the Racing Rules of Sailing alive from her diverse experiences.