[Public-List] Not so funny...

Gordon Laco mainstay at csolve.net
Fri Oct 5 17:07:18 PDT 2018



> On Oct 5, 2018, at 5:58 PM, Michael Grosh via Public-List <public-list at lists.alberg30.org> wrote:
> Excellent advice
> 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
>> fracture.
>>>> 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
>> hands.
>>>> 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
>> 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
>> meeting.
>>>> 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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