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Disgusted with the Optimist class
Team McLube


The Publisher

Jan 10, 2012, 10:25 AM

Post #1 of 9 (26502 views)
Disgusted with the Optimist class Log-In to Post/Reply

By Mario Sampaio:

After having been part of the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA) as a parent for over a decade with two sons, and traveling with one of my sons who represented Portugal at the 2011 IODA World Championship which was completed Monday in Napier, New Zealand, I have to conclude that IODA does great damage to sailing.

First, because IODA has become a ruthless business enterprise owned by an investment fund, charging outrageous prices for the events and the equipment charters. IODA continues to ignore ISAF's repeated recommendations to lower cost, and indeed, costs keep rising every year. A sail costs 500 euros, a competitive boat costs around 4 to 5 thousand euros, and a daily charter alone costs 75 euros, with the various suppliers having all agreed to fix prices.

(I remind the readers that the construction drawings for the Optimist dinghy can be obtained for free as the designer has forfeited his royalty rights. I just fail to see how these current IODA practices encourage sailing, or help in ISAF's efforts, initiatives and directives for sailing.)

Second, because it runs its pinnacle event based on the criteria that its officials have a great time off the water, suffice it to say this year's best day for sailing was the lay day, but IODA officials were very busy visiting the local vineyards and wineries, and it was simply impossible to change that (the event completed only 11 of the 15 scheduled races). This was the fourth consecutive year the IODA Worlds had no wind. Turkey, Brasil, Malaysia and now New Zealand saw almost all races run with wind of force one.

Speaking of 'officials' we can only wonder why at least some of these officials also represent and sell all kinds of equipment and boats, as if that doesn´t constitute a blatant conflict of interests; IODA refuses to acknowledge that, in fact it states it's run by two or three people only, the rest are 'volunteers'.

Third, because IODA interfered and demanded the Principal Race Officer and the race committee to do what IODA wanted, and if they didn´t they would have simply cast them aside, which they threatened to do on more than one occasion. As a result, a lot of screaming took place onboard the committee boat... as the PRO simply refused to submit to IODA's blackmail 'tactics' (I could go on and on but the point is to illustrate, not create a soap opera environment).

But even more importantly, because the IODA 2011 World Champion Kimberley Lim of Singapore, cheated her way to individual victory! I saw in disgust how she pumped her way downwind after rounding the weather mark, around sixteenth in race seven, and ended up in 2nd place on that race. That is 14 points in just that race, and at least half those points obtained in an extremely short downwind leg; she 'won' the title by a mere four point margin.

As Lim was on port pumping away and a jury boat approached, she immediately jibed her boat to starboard to get away, and hid her movements with the boats' heeled hull, and kept sailing at much higher speed than the fleet, in flat seas and no wind, which, as any sailor knows, is simply impossible with a force one wind strength, as the jury (who was between me and the sailor) ignored it completely and instead kept focusing and giving penalties to the very last boats in the fleet.

In another incident, the jury yellow flagged a sailor for sculling in 20 knots, when he was simply moving his rudder to bare away after the weather mark, and as his bow did in fact bare away to leeward, as he took off on the reach. The sailor asked for redress but was ignored and dismissed. Sculling in 20 knots of wind, bearing away on the weather mark? I wonder what sport the jury understands, it is most definitely not sailing.

So the (Paul Elvstrom) motto that it is useless to win unless you have also won your opponents' respect has long been forgotten and ignored in IODA. Anything goes in order to win, anything, including inventing bogus arguments and creating false witnesses to attempt to change results in the committee room, and much of this fueled by hungry greedy corrupt coaches who have huge bonuses waiting for them for bringing home victory. Last year we heard that one coach would receive a 250 thousand euro bonus for bringing home a world champion.

Repeatedly and carefully watching the Asian teams, as I have done, one cannot reach any other conclusion than that they are coached to cheat because they cheat in any procedure repeatedly and they do it really well, which has to be the result of assertive and rigorous practice. So cheating has become a standard operating procedure for many of the teams, as it is 'allowed', as long as the jury doesn´t see it, and the jury simply ignores it as we have repeatedly seen here once again, while the yellow flags happen at the very end of the fleets where they will not make a bit of difference to the outcome.

The irrefutable fact is that kids are 'coached' to cheat as their technique obviously shows, and that is another great problem in IODA. There are kids that have honor and follow the rules and there are kids that consider that anything is okay as long as you win. IODA suffers from a huge deficit of honesty!

And it goes on... what the Opti monster doesn´t realize (although they keep stating that a large percentage of IODA sailors make it to the Olympics), is that the largest percentage of young sailors drop out of sailing even before they become federated, as families can´t afford to or get fed up of being ripped off by the extremely expensive IODA system which is totally coach dependent, and which makes obscene profits on fees, equipment, travel costs, and regatta costs.

I had to pay almost 5 thousand euros for my kid to travel to Napier, or he was out, even though he qualified at the Nationals! Many countries didn´t bring their best kids, but the ones whose families could afford it! Last year we paid over 4.5 thousand euros to go to Langkawi (Malaysia) and while the official country rep feasted at the best resorts and restaurants with my money, she told the team to go have supper at MacDonald's. On the return trip she arrived at the airport with five huge bags of stuff she had bought, but refused to pay extra for the sail tubes... although she had charged me for that cost!

So all in all IODA harms out sport and I can only say that our love of sailing has endured in spite of the Opti monster! After the Opti Worlds awards ceremony, my son told me that if they would sell him alcohol (which he has never tasted) he would 'get drunk' as he is sooo fed up with the Optimist and very much looks forward to moving on. I thought to myself how I couldn´t but thank god in my capacity for having survived the Opti monster!

Attached: 2011 IODA World Championship results

Attachments: Final.results.pdf (125 KB)


Jan 10, 2012, 8:07 PM

Post #2 of 9 (25561 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Disgusted with the Optimist class [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

This is going to need some follow up from other sources who were there, so we can hear other perspectives, if any.

Having said that, I've not been encouraged much at all by the developing issues and attitudes I've seen in the IODA in recent years.

Is it time to put the brakes on, and if so, can that even be done?

The Publisher

Jan 11, 2012, 11:11 AM

Post #3 of 9 (24878 views)
Re: [blakesail] Disgusted with the Optimist class [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

In response to Mario Sampaio I believe that it would be useful to balance his issue with IODA with my own observations. For many years I was active with Optimists and travelled to numerous IODA events including World Championships. At the time I was on the Youth and Development Committee of ISAF as well, as an alternate, the ISAF Council.

No organisation is perfect and even ISAF struggles with that ideal on occasions. However, generally, IODA does succeed and under difficult circumstances.

Firstly the Optimist class is the only one in the sailing world that is not managed by its sailors. IODA is run by enthusiastic adults who sail but do not sail Optimists.

Secondly, IODA has over 100 plus member national authorities involved in the class and they range from well developed MNAs to freshly emerging ones. Under these conditions it is impossible to create a “one size fits all” policy. The complexities of controlling the costs of the Optimist dinghy are unbelievable. Demands made on boat builders and sail makers vary from extremely high performance craft wanted by wealthy parents in well off MNA’s to the most economically possible by government sponsored providers in relatively poor MNAs.

Thirdly, the hopes and aspirations of the adults that put young sailors in Optimists stretch from extremely ambitious to idyllic dreaming. Out of control parents and coaches at IODA Championships are legendary as are the young sailors that arrive with a well meaning parent who knows little or nothing about sailing.

Fourthly, IODA has always been soundly managed financially. To state that IODA is owned by an investment fund is not supported by the IODA Articles of Association. Each year, during the lay days of the World Championship, the IODA AGM is held and the yearly financial statements are made public. Any member nominated by their MNA can question the financial proprietary of the IODA management and at the considerable number of AGMs I have attended there have never been any questions of substance.

Finally, IODA’S activities are closely scrutinised by ISAF and it is rare that the Association’s Executive has not responded, very positively, to ISAF’s requests. Probably, over the years, I have been one of IODA’s strongest critics but I have always been impressed by their Executives’ dedication.

Perhaps, in closing, Mario could make himself available to be part of IODA’s committee, attend their AGMs and become more familiar with the complicated tapestry of administering the most successful class in the ISAF portfolio.

Barrie Harmsworth,
Technical Advisor
UAE Sailing and Rowing Federation

Robert Wilkes

Jan 12, 2012, 3:26 AM

Post #4 of 9 (24543 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Disgusted with the Optimist class [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Robert Wilkes
Mario Sampaio’s rant is nothing new. In February 2008 he published a very similar diatribe on the now defunct Rule69Blog. His latest
hysterical rant contain a large number of factual errors, some of which are noted below. For information I am the former secretary and a member of honour of IODA but had no part in any of the arrangements or events in Napier and am writing in a personal capacity.
1. He wrote: “ioda has become a ruthless business enterprise owned by an investment fund”
IODA is a not-for-profit organization registered as an ‘organisation of public utility’. It is controlled by the democratic votes of its members who are the approximately 110 national Optimist or sailing associations of their countries.

2. He wrote: “ioda continues to ignore isaf's repeated recommendations to lower costs”
ISAF did so recommend in the early 1990s and IODA took action as detailed in The price of Optimists is now significantly lower in real terms than twenty years ago.
“A competitive boat costs around 4 to 5 thousand euros”
The most expensive Optimist shown at the Dusseldorf Boat Show 2010 cost EUR 2,600 + tax. Models with lower specification sails and spars were shown for as little as EUR1,670 and bulk discounts can take this much lower.
“a daily charter alone costs 75 Euros”
the daily charter fees in Napier was $45 = 36 Euros
“the various suppliers have all agreed to fix prices”
There are 32 current Optimist builders in 20 countries . Any such agreement is pure fantasy.

3. He wrote: “some of these officials also represent and sell all kinds of equipment and boats”
This is untrue. The IODA Articles state: “No partner, employee or agent of a professional manufacturer of Optimist hulls, sails or spars shall be a member of an IODA committee.”
“it’s run by two or three people only, the rest are ‘volunteers’ ”.
IODA has two employees: the six-person Executive are indeed volunteers (two university professors, two businessmen, a retired army officer and a manager of a national sailing association). The structure, including duties and expenses, is shown at - EC

4 He wrote: “ioda worlds for the 4th year consecutively had no wind”
This is at best an exaggeration. IODA cannot control the wind conditions. The venues for the championships are chosen by the members (countries) after open presentations by potential hosts.
”this years' best day for sailing was the lay day”
This was the seventh day of the schedule and a rest was deemed appropriate. The lay day is not normally used for racing at the ISAF World Youth Championship.

5. He wrote: “ioda interfered and demanded the principal race officer and the race committee to do what ioda wanted”
IODA, like most major Classes, has a representative on the committee boat. He is one of ISAF’s most experienced IROs.

6. Enforcement of RRS 42
IODA specifies that eight judges, more than the ISAF requirement, undertake the enforcement of RRS 42.

7. Kimberly Lim
Sampaio’s belief that Kimberly won by cheating is an appalling insult to her and to the many different ISAF judges assessing her at different events. Her record as follows shows that she is an exceptionally talented sailor: 2010 Worlds 8th; 2009 Worlds 32nd; 2010 Asian Games 2nd; 2010 IODA Asians 1st; 2011 Dutch Youth Regatta 1st.

9. “The IODA system . . . . makes obscene profits on fees, equipment, travel costs and regatta costs”. IODA is not-for-profit and tries to spend any surplus (which arises only from agreed fees) on its development programme as detailed at and, for example, pioneering work in tracking.

10.The attack on the Portuguese team-leader, a woman who has devoted many years to volunteer Optimist administration is likewise appalling. She receives minimal expenses agreed by her national association.

It is true that the recent Worlds in New Zealand was an exceptionally expensive event for participants from many parts of the world: however year after year the New Zealanders incur huge costs to travel to events and the democratic decision of IODA to award them the 2011 championship was, in my opinion, entirely equitable.
While 48 countries chose to participate, any country or parent who decided not to do so had the alternative of attending an IODA continental championship – 26 additional countries did so. In the case of the Sampaios they did not even need to leave their own country – the 2011 IODA Europeans was in Portugal!

IODA has worked tirelessly over decades to develop and control one of the biggest and fairest events in the world sailing calendar with the help of dedicated organisers, judges, race officials and IODA officers. It also offers, almost uniquely, five continental championships which likewise are run to the highest standards. The championship in Napier appears from the many reports on the internet to have been a successful event despite wind problems.

Sampaio “fails to see how these current ioda practice encourage sailing of help in isaf’s efforts innitiatives and directives for sailing”.
The answer is that in the last ten years IODA has:
- added 16 new national fleets, primarily in the ISAF target areas of Africa and Central America
- provided racing at IODA world and continental championships for around 90 countries
- seen annual boat sales increase by approx 20%
- provided over 75% of the boat skippers at the ISAF Youth Worlds

I would sincerely hope that when Mr. Sampaio has calmed down he offers a full apology for his lies and misrepresentations.

The Publisher

Jan 12, 2012, 9:26 AM

Post #5 of 9 (24400 views)
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Jan 16, 2012, 6:32 AM

Post #6 of 9 (23788 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Disgusted with the Mario Sampaio [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Unsure Wow, Mr Sampio, give it a break. How unconstructive can your criticism be. I agree that Optis are pretty darn expensive if you want to buy the top of the line but it does give an avenue for almost any budget. I sailed in the Sunfish Worlds in Italy and damn, it was expensive but not because the sunfish is expensive, because it just cost a lot to go to Italy, especially with the diminishing dollar. But I agree that Italy and probably Netherlands deserve a chance to host great events if they particpate in others and they did. My daughter grew up in Optis and we chose the middle path, lots of club racing and some districts and money was probably a factor but no one was forcing us to do it. Sailing is a great sport except for those that constantly try to tear it apart with negativity. yep, can be expensive but you don't have to do it or help build one of the other classes but the fact is you wanted your child to sail against the best and they did and now you call them cheaters. And the class is a rip off. You and your family should have left this class years ago. Hope your child is aging out soon so you don't have to deal with this hell you put yourself in any more. I wish there were other good options for youth classes. I think there are but most parents won't abandon the Opti class. So, do what you want but please don't tell the world about how much it sucks. It sucks to hear about it.
Sail Often and have fun


Jan 16, 2012, 7:13 AM

Post #7 of 9 (23767 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Disgusted with the Optimist class [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

great response, thanks for your input. Only please don't invite "Mario" to help out. He is so far on the wrong side that he would con-volute any positive outcomes. good to have the other side but not the one that he seems to make up.
Sail Often and have fun

The Publisher

Jan 16, 2012, 7:37 AM

Post #8 of 9 (23757 views)
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Clearly I opened a can of worms. Mario lists excessive fees in his initial report, and while I could not find examples to match his report, I did find examples in excess of what Robert quotes in his rebuttal. Another point of disagreement is in price fixing. After personally working in one design sailmaking for twelve years, I can say that all the manufactures are quite aware of what their competitors are charging, and all the prices become pretty similar.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


Jan 16, 2012, 2:55 PM

Post #9 of 9 (23676 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Disgusted with the Optimist class [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Hi, After reading the post from Mario, I felt I needed to make a short reply.
I was involved with the Optimist from 1991 to 2006 in many roles, from International Coach, Builder, I.O.D.A. Prototype measurer and consultant in many fields for I.O.D.A.
The Optimist in my view is the best class run orgainisation worldwide, to be able to have boats built in S America, Europe, China, Russia etc and all the same, I often said "if you took one boat from every builder in the world and asked them to build it in white with no logo's, then put them in a line, you could not tell the difference" and I should know I measured them all.
This is a credit to I.O.D.A. and the hard work they put into making the Optimist a genuine one-design.
Builders will try and market there boat as a faster boat, because of this, that and the other, but the tolerances control the production, making them all the same.
The Optimist IS value for money, if you look after your boat it will last competitively for many years, outliving a majority of other International classes, and yes you will get a high percentage of your investment back when you sell.
The Optimist is a stepping stone and serves as a great starter boat, race boat and International competition boat, some sailors will stop sailing after the Optimist, others will continue, but to whatever level you sail to in the Optimist, the years you spent, will serve you for a lifetime.

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