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Russian protests at 2012 Olympic Games
Team McLube


The Publisher

Aug 13, 2012, 10:51 AM

Post #1 of 5 (16173 views)
Russian protests at 2012 Olympic Games Log-In to Post/Reply

Submitted by
Charley Cook, Principal Race Officer
2012 Olympic Games

In light of the mis-information in the blogoshere concerning the RUS vs FIN Petit-Finals, I hope you'll permit me to comment.

I've seen a quote by the Russian skipper to the effect that I argued in the hearing that the jury couldn't reverse an OCS decision made on the water, and that I was Chairman of the Jury. Neither is correct. David Tillett (AUS) was the Chairman of the International Jury. The Russian skipper was not present during the hearing on shore. The team chose to be represented by its rules advisor. I didn't say what she has attributed to me, and she couldn't know what I said since she wasn't present.

There were two disputes presented by the Russian Women's' Match Race Team in the final two days of the competition - in the Semi-Finals and in the Petit-Finals

The Semi-Finals were held on 10 August. The Sailing Instructions stated that the Semi-Finals were a first to 3 knock-out series. Notice 13, posted before the start of the competition, stated that the series would be terminated at 1730 hours on 10 August (to allow for the Finals and Petit-Finals the following day).

The Semi-Finals were terminated at 1729 hours on 10 August. At that time, Spain led Russia by a score of 2-1. In accordance with Racing Rules of Sailing C10.5, Spain was declared the winner.

Russia filed no Request for Redress concerning these decisions.

At 0800 hours on 11 August, Russia filed a petition for arbitration with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). In that petition, Russia sought several remedies: (1) that the Finals and Petit-Finals be stayed, (2) that the Semi-Finals be continued, and (3) that the rules governing the event be altered.

ISAF was advised of the arbitration at 0942 hours on 11 August. The Petit-Finals were scheduled to commence at 1200 hours. ISAF filed its brief in opposition at 1045 hours.

Less than an hour later, the arbitrator dismissed Russia's petition.

Here are some useful links:

Notice 13:
Court of Arbitration Notice:

The CAS decision will be posted in due course on the CAS website. Since it is public, I think it's OK for it to be posted now. Here is the link:

For the Finals and Petit-Finals, we had two ISAF-appointed International Race Officers sighting the start line: The Race Officer (from Spain), and an experienced race officer from Ireland. They were in the proper position to make a starting line call. They agreed that the start was VERY close, but CLEAR. Russia was judged by them to be the closest to the line.

Russia sought redress on the water, claiming Finland was over the line. After taking testimony from the two race officers, the two skippers and the Russian coach, the on-the-water jury denied the request.

On shore, Russia presented video claiming it established an error by the race officers. I have seen no reports stating the provenance of the video. The video relied upon was taken more than 75 meters away from the start boat. The sound was also taken from more than 75 meters away. As far as I can tell, the oral count-down did not come from the start boat. If it was from the start boat, the distance would have caused a delay. The video also shows the watch at 0 seconds. But, that wasn't at the precise instant of the start. It could have been as much as .99999 seconds later since the watch was set to count up. In that amount of time, the boats would have traveled more than 5 feet.

I can't comment on what was said during the hearing. But, the published documents show that the on-shore jury concluded there was no basis to re-open its on-the-water hearing.

A document entitled International Jury Information to Athletes was posted before the start of the competition. That document covers, among other matters, the use of video evidence. The document also states that the jury would not reverse an OCS call without conclusive evidence that the race committee made a mistake. The link to that document is:[13188].pdf

The on-shore jury panel reviewed the video, and heard evidence from Russia and the Race Committee. It then decided not to re-open. Here's the link to that decision:

Bottom Line
Sighting the start line is not an exact science, and video evidence from 75 meters away with an incorrect oral count-down is not very useful. The two race officers who made the call were in the right positions, and have a great deal of experience. Could they have made a mistake? It's possible. We've seen mistakes in the Super Bowl. We saw a goal not counted as a goal in the Soccer World Cup. On the water umpires also make mistakes. We all watch NBA games, and see mistakes by the referees. People who weren't on the start boat, relying on video that is unreliable at best, may think an error was made. Having been on the water during the race, heard the reports from the race officers, and seen all available video, I'm convinced the two race officials made the correct decision.

We shouldn't let Russia's complaints about the Semi-Finals and the Petit-Finals detract from a great event. All 12 Women's Match Race Teams were well-prepared and very competitive. Any one of them could have won a medal. Congratulations to all teams for their achievements.

The Publisher

Aug 13, 2012, 11:44 AM

Post #2 of 5 (16163 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Russian protests at 2012 Olympic Games [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

In the Petit Final, 2012 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Silja Lehtinen (FIN) beat Ekaterina Skudina (RUS) 3-1 to take the bronze medal. Skudina finished fourth. Final results:

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


Aug 13, 2012, 6:43 PM

Post #3 of 5 (15944 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Russian protests at 2012 Olympic Games [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

This is the most important sailing event anyone will ever be in and I do not begrudge the Russian team from trying to reverse a decision that would have ended their Olympic hopes, especially since they had some video support that helped their case. But we all know the Race Officers, in exactly the right place and concentrating 100% at the most important event they will ever officiate, are highly focused and it is unlikely that two of them would both make a mistake. So Charlie Cook and his team saw it right, they judged it right, his reply is gracious and I hope everyone goes away reasonably comfortable the decision was right.

This situation is totally different from picking at legal straws in courtrooms as in the 2008 49er medal race, where one team (starts with I) complained they were at a severe disadvantage since the winners, in a borrowed boat starting ten minutes late, had CRO on their sail instead of the right insignia which was very confusing, and in addition did not have a TV camera on the stern, which made the boat lighter and faster. That kind of extra-judicial redress will not do the sport or the competitors any good.

Just my opinion,



Aug 13, 2012, 7:17 PM

Post #4 of 5 (15846 views)
Re: [dstorrs] Russian protests at 2012 Olympic Games [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Here is a video that was shot a lot closer than 75 meters to the start boat.


Like Maradona's "hand of god", folks will probably be talking about this for a long time. Adjusting for paralax and moving your line of sight a bit to the left, it looks like both boats might have been ocs. (but note that this video is not is not from independant source)I was watching this race live and I remember thinking "Wow, that was close to ocs"

But Charlie is right, under our rules of yacht racing, when there is a close call like this we go with the line of sight umpire. The line of sight umpire called it a clean start without making any obvious error.

In reality the Russians had lost that start, they took a chance hoping they could get the Finns a few millimeters OCS, but chance didnt fall their way on that day. Ultimately the Finns were worthy adverseries and were already leading 2:1 in the series putting the Russians in a tough spot.

The word is that Ekatrina, the Russian skipper, is devastated, missing a medal by one place.

I hope Ekaterina will overcome her devastation. It was a great battle for the bronze. Both teams can hold their heads high. It was a match race than none of us who watched will forget for a very long time. I believe and hope that Ekatrina's sailing will be wowing us for many years in the future.

The only question I am left with is "Why oh Why are we dropping one of the two most spectator friendly sailing events from the Olympics?" The finals of the match racing were specatcular!


Aug 14, 2012, 9:25 AM

Post #5 of 5 (14879 views)
Re: [JScott] Russian protests at 2012 Olympic Games [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Watched the video and it was a close call but what is new? How thick is the starting line anyway? In the old days it was as thick as a thread but new thinking has it different thicknesses after size of waves, current , wind and other factors are taken into consideration.Watching on a moving boat at moving object comparing it to a moving pole and buoy. In these conditions maybe the line judge had a 18 inch range in mind. Maybe it was 6 inches. What ever the case the competitors were not ruled over and the race goes on. Curious about how other other race officers call the line but in my mind it is no longer as thick as a thread.

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