What kind of sailor are YOU?


Dobbs Davies examines the first outing of ISAF's new Competitor Classification system
Some background Sailing has a unique position among competitive sports by allowing professionals and amateurs to compete with or against each other on the same playing field. For many years this arrangement was a good symbiosis, allowing keen amateurs the opportunity to learn from professionals, and professionals the opportunity to market their goods or services to those interested in gaining a performance edge on their competition. However, it is precisely this last point that started causing concern with many race organisers over the last few years, where those amateurs unwilling or unable to seek professional help felt those that were had an unsportsman-like advantage. The situation worsened as boat designs became faster but technically more challenging to sail, making the need for crewing expertise stronger than ever. A good example of this was the Mumm 36 class where the widespread perception began to develop that in order to be competitive an all-pro team was necessary. The mantra "Pros are killing the sport" became a battle cry for change. In response to this, class organizers and event managers sought to find a way of limiting the number of professionals involved with crews and/or events in the hope that the level of competitiveness could be dropped down to a level more accessible to more people. While this concept sounded good, there was no general agreement on how to define exactly who was a 'professional' and who was an 'amateur'. Several codes were developed, from the MIR (Marine Industry Representative) code in Southern California, to the Appendix R Eligibility Code in the US, and what ultimately became the RYA code used in Ford Cork Week in Ireland. John Williams of Ulmer Kolius Sails was in on the ground floor of organizing Cork Week to be the huge flagship amateur event it has become, attracting hundreds of

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