[Public-List] Not so funny...
dickdurk at gmail.com
Fri Oct 5 14:58:06 PDT 2018
On Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 13:34 Gordon Laco via Public-List <
public-list at lists.alberg30.org> wrote:
> Hello Arthur -
> Crew… that’s an interesting issue in the case of this member. He is
> always sailing short handed, and he changes crew often… The people who
> crew for him are almost exclusively novices who have never been aboard a
> boat before.
> I was mentioned in the hearing that this compounds his problems in tight
> quarters. There have been situations among those where clearly he was
> making bad decisions, where he was sailing into trouble while being
> distracted by his crew, who were clearly not comprehending what he was
> telling them to do.
> In the collision with us, I heard him berating his crew for not telling
> him that he was sailing into a series of unavoidable collisions. After the
> race, when he was telling me the same thing, I returned “wait a minute,
> that’s like saying after a car accident that you turned left into the path
> of the oncoming car because the guy in the back seat didn’t warn you… It’s
> your job, not his, to be responsible.”
> One of his crew from that night asked me to explain why everyone was so
> angry about how CANADIAN EXPRESS approached that mark. This person had
> never heard of port-starboard right of way conventions, and didn’t know
> what constituted port or starboard tack at all…. She was upset that
> perhaps she’d caused the collisions as her skipper had accused her. I
> said what happened had nothing to do with her… that I had eye contact with
> her skipper right through the incident which meant he knew what he thought
> he was doing…
> So there’s another person with a poisoned view of what yacht racing is…
> She and her husband have a boat at the club. She said they’re afraid to
> race it because of the violence. I told her that next year will be
> better… I suggested that they should race it… if they’re not confident at
> the starts, just hang back and cross after the herd… sometimes that’s best
> anyway. Pick a boat and chase it… one day they’ll catch it, at which point
> they should chase the next one. Some day they’ll discover they’re up at
> the front and wish they’d paid more attention to the course instructions!
> I told her that Matt in SUNDANCE is our arch rival. We congratulate each
> other after every race because although we race hard, we race cleanly.
> That’s sportsmanship, and that’s what yacht racing is about. (can you hear
> the violins rising behind me?)
> Gordon Laco
> Surprise 426
> > On Oct 5, 2018, at 1:18 PM, Arthur Chotin <art at legalprinters.com> wrote:
> > Gord,
> > What a story. Good for you to not just let it go. Sounds like this guy
> has emotional issues which a suspension will not likely solve. But, even
> with sympathy for him, he puts his crew and others in danger and that
> cannot be tolerated.
> > What does his crew think of him?
> > Arthur
> > --
> > Arthur Chotin
> > Principal
> > Legal Printers, LLC
> > 5614 Connecticut Avenue, NW #307
> > Washington, DC 20015
> > 202.747.2400
> > 202.449.9565 Fax
> > www.legalprinters.com <http://www.legalprinters.com/>
> > Gordon Laco via Public-List wrote on 10/5/2018 11:59 AM:
> >> Good day friends,
> >> Our club went through a bit of an ordeal in the past month, the sort
> which every sailing club is afflicted by from time to time. I’d decided
> not to write about it until things were resolved and I had the issue
> settled somewhat in my own mind.
> >> We have an overly aggressive member in our club who has made himself a
> nuisance and worse in our races for all the years he has been a member. He
> is an ex-Olympic runner up from the early 1970’s, and sails a fast boat
> which I’ve mentioned in several of my more humorous race reports. In the
> last Wednesday night race of the season, we took our turn being attacked by
> this fellow…I and cosquently the club decided not to ignore the issue.
> Here’s what happened.
> >> We were approaching the weather mark on the second beat. SURPRISE was
> on starboard tack and just laying the mark. Another B Fleet boat, a
> Niagara 26, was close ahead of us, also beating. There was a third yacht
> on our starboard quarter who had over stood and was coming down to the
> mark. The wind was moderate, so all of us were doing about 5 knots, we
> were creeping up on the boat ahead of us. The mark was very close ahead of
> him, less than three boat lengths.
> >> Down to port, we all saw our overly aggressive member In CANADIAN
> EXPRESS, an Express 30R in A fleet, coming up to the mark on port tack and
> on a collision course with the Niagara 26 ahead of us. When it was apparent
> CE was not altering course, the Niagara ahead of us shouted STARBOARD! loud
> and clearly. Without answering, CE bore off, which put her on a collision
> course with us.
> >> I shouted STARBOARD!, but instead of bearing off again, CE bore up. I
> realized he was going to try to cut between us and the boat ahead of us,
> where there was now less than a boat length. I shouted ‘Volkmar there’s no
> room there, you can’t do it!’ but he carried on until he was 3/4 of his
> length across our bow, at which point he then tried to tack onto
> starboard. I remember shouting ‘OH SHIT-SHIT-SHIT!'
> >> His starboard stern quarter slammed into our port bow making SURPRISE
> ring like a drum. CE’s skipper then looked back at me over his shoulder
> and shouted ‘GET OUT OF MY WAY, YOU HAVE TO KEEP CLEAR!’ Then, after he
> looked forward and saw he was about to overrun the Niagara 26 ahead of him,
> swerved to weather, swiping his extended outboard across our bow. He swiped
> it across our bow again as he turn off to round the mark. The motor and its
> mount were torn off his stern, hanging by a single bent bolt that didn’t
> >> All three boats rounded the mark, well four, including the guy coming
> down on our quarter. We heard much shouting between crew members aboard
> CE, whose skipper also screamed curses at us for not keeping clear of him,
> and about his outboard and its mount. I raised the red protest flag...
> >> Down near the end of the running leg, CE did a 720 turn, fouling
> another yacht while he did so, which was accompanied by his screaming that
> they had to keep out of his way.
> >> At the club an hour later, we were putting SURPRISE’s gear away and I
> heard angry shouting over at CE’s jetty. I told my crew I’d better get
> over there rather than let others fight my battles for me, and left them
> furling up the main.
> >> As I walked down CE’s jetty I found her skipper in a confrontation with
> the skipper and crew of the Niagara 26. When I walked up, CE’s skipper saw
> me and literally charged at me with clenched fists shouting ‘I know what
> sort of man you are! You rammed me on purpose! (livened with foul cursing)
> >> Well I used to be an officer of the RCN; and one is taught how to deal
> with confrontations. I am not naturally a confrontational person but
> without thinking something clicked in my mind. (thank you Petty Officer
> 1st Class Earl Allen. You were a demon instructor in Officer's Basic, but
> you taught me lessons I’m still rediscovering) I did not back up. I
> raised my right hand flat, fingers together in the vertical plane and made
> the proscribed chopping motion toward Volkmar. I said in a low voice
> “Volkmar, you made an error out there, you are making it worse now by
> making a fool of yourself. You do know what sort of man I am, I’m the guy
> who took the trouble to try to help you get along here. Go away’.
> Volkmar’s mouth snapped shut, then he shouted ‘you all hate me because I’m
> German!’ At that point the club’s commodore came up (he had been crewing
> in the Niagara) and pulled Volkmar back to his boat.
> >> Later in the clubhouse, Volkmar apologized to me for the collision,
> then began boasting that he’d won the series regardless of being thrown out
> of the race, and at blamed his crew for the accident.
> >> That evening I thought about the atmosphere in our declining racing
> fleet… about the several good sailors who had quit racing in the past few
> years after confrontations with CANADIAN EXPRESS, and the many new sailors
> who said they’d never race because of what they’d heard about how savage
> the confrontations on the course are.
> >> I decided that for the good of the sport I needed to ask the club to
> look into the issue again - CANADIAN EXPRESS had been suspended from racing
> for various periods of time three times in the past four years. I thought
> it no good that we had to put up with repeated transgressions of clear and
> basic rules of sportsmanship and seamanship… and that the constant issues
> caused by this member are not really washed away by his apologies when he
> always does it again, and again.
> >> The Midland Bay Sailing Club had already decided on it’s own to convene
> a hearing on a charge of Rule 69 and the club’s code of behaviour against
> this member, triggered by this most recent collision. A general invitation
> of all boats who in the past three years had had confrontations with
> CANADIAN EXPRESS were invited to a hearing. In the invitation I received,
> I was asked not to limit my testimony to the collisions in the last race…
> rather to be more general.
> >> The skippers of nine boats plus various race committee officials
> attended the meeting which was chaired by our racing committee chairman, a
> retired lawyer/founding member of the club, and an accredited rule judge.
> >> Volkmar had canvassed the club himself to find people who would speak
> for him… but they all declined. Two of the people he thought might stand
> with him appeared as witnesses against him. He was there alone, with only
> his wife sitting back in the room watching.
> >> The committee described Rule 69 (google it). Then they read the club’s
> code of behaviour. Witnesses began describing collisions, near misses,
> foul language. etc. Volkmar had the opportunity to question and comment
> after each testimony. It was ugly and sad seeing him struggle, sometimes
> begging for another chance, sometimes attacking. Then they came to me.
> >> I read the invitation I had received, and said that I’d answer any
> questions put to me about the recent collisions, but said that I had four
> points to discuss first. I have my note pad beside me now.
> >> 1. Repeated demonstrations of pointless aggression on the race course.
> >> 2. Repeated demonstrations of poor boat handling, and poor situational
> awareness in traffic
> >> 3. Repeated demonstrations of very poor sportsmanship
> >> 4. Repeated demonstrations by the club that no serious consequences
> result from these patterns of behaviour.
> >> Each point was discussed in detail…. Volkmar again alternately
> apologizing, then attacking. At one point he began insulting each the
> three people on the hearing committee. At another point he shouted ‘I’ve
> got you all on Rule 17!’ One of the committee members said quietly ‘I’m
> glad you brought that up - one of the issues in your pattern of behaviour
> is that you clearly do not understand the rules. You continually invoke as
> your defence rules that are non-existent, obsolete or not understood.
> Let’s look at Rule 17.’ Alas that rule had nothing to do with what he
> hoped it did. Volkmar then said to me ‘why did you drag me in here, why did
> you never come to me personally?’ I replied that I had on several
> occasions, most recently earlier this season in a phone call. Volkmar
> shouted ‘my wife heard that call - you called to call me a fool!’ I
> replied that he was mistaken, I had called as a friend to try to help him
> understand why he was in trouble again. I saw his wife had her face in her
> >> Finally after three hours everyone had spoken. The chairman turned to
> Volkmar and asked him if he had anything to add. Clearly realizing that
> this was the time to play his last card, Volkmar made an impassioned and
> calm appeal that he not be suspended from racing. (suspension had not been
> mentioned but I expect he knew what might be at stake, having been
> suspended before) He pointed to each of us who described problems and
> apologized. He said to me ‘Gord, I will NEVER do that to you again!’. He
> described that he’d been a racing sailor at a high level most of his life.
> He said that in his retirement years, racing is his life again, it ‘gets me
> off the couch every week’. He said he loves yacht racing… and asked not to
> be suspended. One of the members present asked Volkmar if he would like to
> see the list of people who he had driven out of our races… but the chairman
> said this was Volkmar’s turn to speak.
> >> I was feeling badly for him. But then the chairman of the committee
> said quietly “Volkmar, we have been here before with you. What assurance
> can you offer us that we will not be here again?’
> >> At that he exploded with rage. He gathered his papers into a ball and
> stood up to leave, shouting ‘YOU ALL HATE ME BECAUSE I’M GERMAN I HAVE NO
> CHANCE WITH YOU PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE!’ Peter, our vice
> commodore and skipper of the Niagara 26 ahead of us in the recent
> collision, said ‘Volkmar, I’m German too, I get on fine. It’s your
> behaviour, not your ethnicity.’
> >> Volkmar sat down again, smoothed out his papers and started renewed
> apologizing, But the committee said they’d heard enough and adjourned the
> >> Three days later the results were published. Volkmar is suspended from
> Wednesday night racing for the whole of the upcoming 2019 season. However
> he will be allowed to race in the much less heavily populated Saturday
> races. He was warned that a transgression in a Saturday race might result
> in a blanket life-time prohibition .
> >> I am well satisfied with the result of the hearing. There has finally
> been significant consequences applied; but he has a chance to change his
> behaviour, and rejoin the sport he says he loves if he manages to
> demonstrate a season without committing new issues of this type.
> >> ======
> >> Pointless aggression has no place in our sport. Cheating has no place
> in our sport. Both behaviours are corrosive and intolerable. If any of
> you are dealing with a problem competitor like ours, and are interested in
> how we dealt with him, I can send you the official judgment document
> off-list. Part of the heavy consequences of the penalty are that under
> the rules a suspension of this length is public and world-wide. The
> document is public.
> >> Gordon Laco
> >> SURPRISE 426
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