Jan 10, 2012, 10:25 AM
Post #1 of 9
By Mario Sampaio:
Disgusted with the Optimist class
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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