Tweetby Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When seven boats were rejected prior to the start of the J/70 World Championship, it was a statement moment for a class that has seen modifications in conflict with its measurement rules. But when a moment like this comes on the eve of a prominent event, expect the noise to get loud.
While Scuttlebutt has not named the parties involved in the seven boats, and nor has the race administration to our knowledge, the situation is becoming more public. Edoardo Recchi, Sports Director for the event host, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, provides this statement on the incident and in response to claims by noted Italian sailor and Worlds competitor Vincenzo Onorato whose son Achille Onorato had his boat rejected.
Ever since Commodore Gianfranco Alberini hired me seventeen years ago to organize regattas at the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, I have done my best to make sure that all participants in sporting events at our Club receive the same impartial treatment, so that they can compete fairly under the same rules and conditions.
The YCCS has always respected and held Team Mascalzone Latino in high regard over the years that they have competed in many events and across various Classes at our Club. There has never been any cause for contention between us.
In the occasion of an exclusion and subsequent withdrawal from the Audi J/70 World Championship, I choose not to comment on the words directed by Team Mascalzone Latino and its owner, Mr. V. Onorato, towards our Commodore R. Bonadeo, who has nothing to do with this affair and who is considering whether or not to take action on a personal level. My job is to answer the criticism directed publicly at the YCCS.
The Audi J/70 World Championship is without a doubt the largest World Championship event of 2017. With 172 teams registered, it is the largest World Championship for sportboats ever organized, and we are very happy with the enthusiasm that the teams have shown.
As always, all teams – in this case 172 boats and crews – underwent J/70 Class Rules controls. It took the International Rating Committee, eight people of whom three from the Italian J/70 Class team and five from the International team, four days to check and measure all the 172 teams registered. This Rating Committee is separate and independent from the YCCS that is the Organising Authority for this important event.
After checking, weighing and measuring hulls, appendages, weight, safety equipment and sails on all of the boats participating, the Rating Committee found that seven boats had obvious deformities in their keels. These deformities were signaled to the O.A. and to the National and International J /70 Class representatives.
On September 11th at 7:00 PM the Ratings Committee posted the results of their measurements on the J/70 Class event’s bulletin board, as per the norm before a regatta gets underway. These results were posted before the event and not late as Mr. Onorato has affirmed. The ratings checks were completed just four hours earlier, at 3:00 PM. Mr. Onorato claims that the ratings checks were done in a different way than at other events, but this has nothing to do with the YCCS. The ratings checks were done by Class rules just as the ratings for any One Design regatta we organise are done.
The O.A.’s notice that the seven non-conforming teams would be excluded from competition was met with protests on the part of most of those teams who asked the eight judges from the International Jury, none of whom are Italian but all of whom have been selected by the Federazione Vela, for a re-check. They confirmed the decision to not allow the seven teams to compete saying that the O.A.’s decision was correct and fair.
I got a call from Pietro Manunta asking if he could register after the deadline after we had already turned down tens of other tardy teams. To stay fair to the other tardy teams I said no, that I could not apply the conditions for tardy registrations (after July 3) that were in the Regatta Rules and conditions for tardy registrations because we already had a record fleet that strained our logistical capacity to the max.
The request to substitute the entire team sailing aboard Mascalzone Latino with the team that sails aboard Mascalzone Junior was turned down by the Regatta Committee, headed by the International Regatta Judges and nominated by the Federazione Vela, because Class Rules state that as single members of a team can be substituted for valid reasons, there must be valid reasons for changing an entire team.
These valid reasons were not presented. In formulating that decision it was asserted that the team in question had not been allowed to compete because there were irregularities in their boat, and these irregularities are always the boat owner’s responsibility.
All the teams racing, 172 total from 25 different nations, had made significant investments to come to Porto Cervo. We reserve the same fair treatment for all, be they four friends camping out to top professional teams with AC sailors and budgets. Our sport is one that the rewards go to the best performer on the water. Not to those who spend the most money.
Fairness is fundamental and a fundamental, J/70 Class rule states that appendages that cannot be modified. If, after a J/70 Class ratings check, it becomes clear that those appendages have been modified, whomsoever has authorised and paid for those modifications becomes responsible for them. Otherwise the other teams racing could not compete in fair conditions in their World Championship.
The seven teams that have been excluded from completion have been found to have boats and/or teams that do not conform to J/70 Class rules. We hope that the other teams can sail in fair and safe conditions along the trapezoid and 2 parallel windward-leeward courses that we have planned to handle such a large fleet. At the end of the event the teams participating in it can best answer Mr. Onorato and say if they found that the event was indeed, “dangerously and poorly organised both on land and on the water by a Club that is poor both in monetary and in human resources.”
The documents that motivated the above decisions are available to all on line and the YCCS’s decision as O.A. has the full support of both the Italian and the International J/70 Classes. The International Jury is also in accord with our decision. It would be extremely difficult that Classes and Jury on this level would “have it in” for Team Mascalzone Latino.
On our part, we are working hard and stretching our operative capacity to accommodate such a large event. We are very pleased to have terminated the measurements and ratings of the largest fleet of sportboats in the history of our sport to date.
The reasons that led to the withdrawal of Team Mascalzone Latino are personal reasons of the owner, Mr. Onorato. His words on Commodore Bonadeo will be taken into consideration at a later date. I have sailed with our Commodore on his Farr 40 and other boats of his, and even if we didn’t always win we never felt we had to publish press releases to vent our spleen. As the saying goes, it isn’t if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.
Despite the immense popularity of the J/70 Class, clearly not all is well. There has already been issues with improper hull fairing which gets masked by bottom paint, but the snowball is still rolling.
Simply, there is an opinion within the class that the boats are not built identically, but with no class legal public templates, it is not known where each boat fits within the manufacturing range. And as in every boat type ever built, there are sweet spots within a measurement range, but with rules restricting modifications, certain boats are then just better than others… or at least that is the belief.
If change is needed, perhaps a sh#tstorm had to come first. Well, we got one.
Regardless, whatever part of our sport we are involved in, if we don’t like the sandbox we are playing in, we should either seek to improve the situation or find another sandbox. There is no third option.