Why I Respectfully Disagree

Joseph Mallord William Turner – Storm at Venice

by Pietro Fantoni – SCIRA member

Last Friday, after a Thursday night meeting, SCIRA Board of Directors has made the difficult decision to move all major events scheduled for 2020 to the 2021 racing season due to the global pandemic.

Yes, it was for sure a difficult decision. Not easy to take.

The Global Pandemic is affecting our lives. Many of us are still at home, the sport activities are interdicted in many countries. We don’t know when we can travel and start our sailing activity.

Already on March 13 (Board Statement) the Master Worlds were postponed, and originally the Board was thinking to reschedule in November. The Board wrote : “Any decisions of regattas to be held or cancelled is left to the regatta chair in coordination with the National Secretary, both which have enough information and pressure from their local governmental agencies which override decisions.”

And on Friday, April 17, four events were moved to 2021 (close to the original dates):

• Snipe Europeans (Croatia, September 2020 to September 2021)
• Master Worlds (USA, May 2020 to May 2021)
• Western Hemisphere & Orient Championship (USA September 2020 to September 2021)
• Women Worlds (Brazil, October 2020, to October 2021)

(We don’t know yet about the Junior Europeans in Spain.)

Maybe this was a hasty decision for some regattas, in some countries, and – I am sure – in some cases it was made without a proper discussion with the hosting country. But this is okay, because the Board has the authority to postpone a major event. In 2008 the Board moved the 2008 Master Worlds to 2009 because the host country was not able to organize the regatta. So it was moved to an odd year (2009), despite the D.o.G. of the Master Worlds that states “even-year”.

Then in 2010, the World Masters was again sailed in Rio de Janeiro, reverting to a date in accordance with the D.o.G.

So to postpone an event is a good decision in some case. And this year, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, maybe even in September or October we are not able to sail. This is the forecast and the Board took their decision. Postponement until 2021.

But they also took another unprecedented decision to move the 2021 Snipe Worlds in Japan and Junior Worlds in Portugal from 2021 to 2022.

This means that for 2020, there will be no major regattas—and from now on, the rotation grid for these events will be moved by one year (the Worlds will be held in even years, and Europeans and WH&O in odd years), “respectively for all major events.”

SCIRA Statement: “So, from now on the Worlds are held on even year, Europeans and WH&O in odd years, etc. respectively for all major events.”

That’s a big change in one night’s meeting.

I already expressed my opinion to the Board, and the Board doesn’t agree with me. So I would like to share my point of view with all of you.

The Deeds of Gift for the Worlds/Junior Worlds and Europeans/WH&O/Masters/Women’s specify even and odd years. So if this new rotation between our major championships is definitive for the future, in my opinion it violates the current Deeds of Gift.

There is also a problem with our Constitution. For example Section 24 and 25 for the election of the Officers specify 2 year terms for board members that are linked to our world and continental championships. Section 23.3 specifies bi-annual meetings in conjunction with the World Championship. Taking this decision – acting in good faith, I am sure – means that members intend to extend their offices for another year.

In my opinion these are not minor changes, because the decision strongly affects the Constitution, which is the main pillar of our Class. You cannot “fix” the Constitution; you can change it only accordingly to our decision-making process (which is written in the Constitution).

Certainly Coronavirus is an unpredictable and unprecedented event. The Olympics have been moved to 2021. But the next Olympics will always be in 2024, 2028 (not in 2025 and 2029). And the elections of the IOC, of ​​the National Olympic Committees and of the International Federations will still be every four years: 2020, 2024, 2028.

If a regatta is canceled or moved to the following year, it is not necessary to change the Deed of Gift because the regatta is only postponed. But the Board has changed the rotation from now to eternity, affecting the Deeds of Gift and the Constitution, without following the proper decision-making process. This decision changed (“de facto”) at least 6 Deeds of Gift: Senior Worlds, Junior Worlds, Master Worlds, Women’s Worlds, Senior Europeans, Westerns (and maybe also Junior Europeans, Women’s Europeans, Master Europeans, European Cup), and 2 sections of the Constitution.

The Constitution (and the rules for modifying the constitution itself) are written to preserve the association and protect its democratic functionality.The decision making process allows people to see and comments the proposal, submitted in a proper way and in a proper time. The Board is the guardian of the Constitution. The pandemic should not be an excuse to deregulate the Constitution.

The practical solution was very simple: cancel or postpone one or more event to 2021 (or 2022). It was not necessary to modify any rule or D.o.G. For sure this is the practical solution for the well-being of the Class, builders, sailmakers, organizers, sailors….

Even during a war – and this is not a war, because some of us are confined in homes with swimming pools and big gardens – we need to abide by the Constitution and respect the decision making process, because that is at the heart of the democratic decision process of our association.

I know that the Board disagrees with me and it will follow its route. They already told me that the pandemic is an unpredictable and unexpected event; nothing is written in the Constitution about an event like this, and they acted for the well-being of the Class.

I respect the Board, but I have a totally different opinion. And I am convinced that the decision should have been to postpone without violating our Deeds of Gift and our Constitution.

Of course on SnipeToday we will publish every opinion on the matter, both of the Board and of any Snipe sailor. You can also comment here or on Facebook or write to me privately (pietro.fantoni@snipetoday.org). This is only my opinion, which does not want to divide the class or create unnecessary controversy, it only wants to highlight one aspect of the decision-making process.

1 thought on “Why I Respectfully Disagree

  1. Pietro,

    While I completely understand your points and respect your opinion, I am in agreement with the Board on their decision. I am confident that the DoG issues can be resolved now that the most the important matter (i.e. re-scheduling major regattas in the name of safety to our members) has been resolved. I cannot imagine how any author of any official document such as Deeds of Gifts could have foreseen an event with such a uniformly world-wide impact, nor how to accommodate it.

    The highest importance to all of us is to the safety of our fellow members. In this case, this means not putting members (sailors and support staff) in the difficult position of having to decide whether or not to attend these regattas that are months away, which includes consideration of safety as well as financial concerns (e.g. forfeiting deposits, travel costs, etc.).

    Yes, the “proper” thing to do was to hold an open discussion and consider all the view points and revise and approve changes to all the Deeds. I cannot imagine how all of that could have been done in the time-critical time frame that was / is warranted for these times.

    “Drastic times call for drastic measures” (derived from ancient Greek physician Hippocrates). Drastic measures are always drawn from multiple options so differences of opinion and disappointment are sure to occur. The cool part about this is that the result is clear and we can adjust our sails and course to this new direction. Yes, there remains work to be done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *