Edition 9

September 2002

6/133-137 Wycombe Street

Yagoona NSW 2199


Tel. +61 2 9738 5261

E-mail PhilVardy@aol.com

A second electronic edition

Equity versus Practicality

Further debate about competition for sailors with disabilities


This edition has its origins in the many emails sent in reply to the eighth edition of World Disabled Sailor (WDS8). In that edition, we published commentary in response to a question about the future of IFDS, the International Foundation for Disabled Sailing. Many people, however, expressed disappointment in our failure to publish their comments. We therefore decided to produce an additional electronic edition of WDS.

As with the earlier edition (WDS8), opinion fell into two groups: those in favour of change, and those in favour of the current system. The pro-change group restated the quality of opportunity
argument used earlier; the anti-change group restated the racticality
argument used earlier along with some new reasoning. These submissions are organised under the headings Equity - Why we should make significant changes and Practicality
Why we should maintain the status quo.

As before, many dozens of responses were appeals for IFDS to consider the Access dinghy as a Paralympic class (Clearly, Access sailors are vocal and well-organised). In WDS8, we set aside these submissions as partisan pleas. Here, however, we have bowed to pressure and listed several valid arguments under Equity submissions referring to the Access Liberty.

Noteworthy comment that supports neither case, and commentary on the previous edition, is listed under General Comment.

The Summary discusses the means whereby we might decide upon change, and take steps to effect it.

Equity - Why we should make significant changes

1. Current classes do not promote the development of our sport

Associa(IC'C#(Bo Portugesa de Vela Adaptada (POR) apva@mail.pt

paralympic boats, as you mentioned, are expensive and require athleticism. (They) therefore exclude a large number of disabled persons
The spirit of APVA is sailing for everyone. It is not your intention to commit (to) the development of classes that will consume the majority of our resources (for) very few persons.

Editor: If each of us had to learn to drive in a racing car, here would be very few drivers. APVA policy is perfectly appropriate.

2. Quads are not competitive in the current system

Mick O'connor (AUS) Michael.OConnor@csa.gov.au
]n most cases, disabled sport is run according to "group classifications". I think this is a very fair way to do it. Being a quad myself, I can remember trying to keep up with paras in basketball. It just didn't happen. And as someone said, that's how Quad Rugby started up

Editor: Jamie Dunross (AUS), the forward hand of the winning Sonar in the Sydney Paralympics, is a quad. So too is Sonar skipper Paul Callaghan (USA). Jamie and Paul are highly competitive sailors.

3. The 2.4mR should be in the Olympics

Jim.Leatherman (USA) Jim.Leatherman@ssa.gov

$Bc`O*(B also feel strongly about the use of mechanical devices$Bc`(I&(B [O]ne of the beauties of this sport is the fact$Bc`(I&(Bthe disabled sailor has to do all the same things as the able bodied sailor. After all, is that not what we want - to be like "them"? Adding mechanical devices, where they were not intended,$Bc`(I&(Bwill cheapen the sport. [W]hat is the difference between, say, the Laser in the Olympics, and the 2.4 in the Paralympics? Aside from the obvious design differences, nothing. The 2.4 could easily be included in the Olympics. There, we, the disabled, get what we have always asked for - a chance to compete with "them" during "their" games. If, however, we allow electric this, and mechanical that, we set up ourselves as "different" and thus can never hope to achieve the chance of competing with them.$Bc`(B[/P>

Editor: 1. Jim's main argument is that mechanical/electrical devices should not be allowed (See also 8.). In that regard, this comment more properly belongs under the Practicality heading. However, Jim's comment is included here because many readers will welcome his suggestion about the 2.4mR and the Olympics. Others prefer a different class: $Bc`O4(Bomehow, I think they have missed the point. Put simply, with the advent of the (Access) Liberty, we have the ideal craft to have an integrated competition in the Olympics$Bc`(B?(Edward Thomas, AUS edward.thomas@swsahs.nsw.gov.au).

4. IFDS should be inclusive, not exclusive

Greg Williams (AUS) bonzz01@yahoo.com

The athletes with profound disabilities face enough exclusion in their lives without an organization that promotes disabled competition excluding them also (IFDS should create an) opportunity for these athletes to showcase their unique ability to overcome the adversity and hardship that their disability creates in their everyday lives.

Editor: A democratic organisation is its members. The executive of IFDS may try to change policy, but the representatives of the member authorities make the major decisions.


5. The Sonar is exclusive

Stephen Wilson (AUS) Stephen.Wilson@swsahs.nsw.gov.au

We have to cater for the widest group of people, and the Sonar is probably an exclusive class for Paralympic competition.

Editor: It is not clear what Stephen means by exclusive.
He may mean exclusive in the sense that the class excludes people; or does he mean exclusive in sense that the class is special?

6. Current classes may be too demanding for many sailors with disabilities

Thierry Schmitter (NED) schmitter-hartman@zonnet.nl

the "severely disabled" are convinced (that) they can not compete on a physical(ly) equal basis in a 2.4mR or in a Sonar, even with all the technical assistance (that) the class rules allow, Hit implies that (these classes are) too physically demanding and, by consequence, not suitable for those disabled (people). Splitting the 2.4mR class will not resolve this problem. The only solution is to select an existing boat type that is suitable without too many technical adaptations to the boat or changes to the class rules; but (certainly) not taking a physically demanding boat type like the Sonar or even the Hobie 16 and (so artificially) twist(ing) the rules around the physical disability of those "severely disabled" that the performance of the boat is so dramatically reduced that the public (ISAF, IOC, sponsors) will not understand, and (will) find it boring.

Editor: The general thrust of Thierry e-mail reflects many of Heiko opinions (See 15.-20.). This paragraph, however, concludes that change may be necessary if the Sonar and 2.4mR prove to be too demanding for sailors with severe disabilities. It is therefore included under the Equity heading.

7. Resistance to change is motivated by self-interest

Name withheld

Host of the country representatives and team makers are NOT trying to be inclusive; they are trying to make their teams as minimally disabled as possible in order to increase their chances of WINNING. This shows in the way they vote for the total points, and the way they go to great lengths to have the maximum number of points in the team. Perhaps the IFDS executive and not the sailors and countries, should set the maximum number of points so that the teams HAVE to include severely, moderately, and mildly disabled sailors (Emphasis is original).

Editor: I have not included the name of this author because the above comments were made to someone else who copied them to me. Similar comments are made often (although few wish to be publicly identified with them). I shall therefore comment at length.

1. It is perfectly valid for a coach to select 2.4mR and Sonar sailors that are most likely to win.

2. At IFDS Sailor Forums, competitors are given the opportunity to voice their opinions on a variety of matters. It is perfectly understandable that such competitors speak in the interests of themselves or their teams. For this reason, Sailors$Bc`(B?Forums are advisory only (although it would be a confident or cavalier committee that would ignore them completely).

3. At IFDS Members
Meetings, the delegate from each country is free to vote according to the dictates of his/her conscience, or according to the instructions of the organisation s/he represents. At Members
Meetings, therefore, delegates may be impartial or partisan.

4. The above puts a considerable ethical burden on the Executive of IFDS, which, with few resources, must make decisions in the best interests of the whole sport. If I could make only one request to competitors and delegates, it would be this: By all means, fight hard to maximise the position of your teams, but let a more neutral umpire decide the context of the competition.

8. Like other Paralympic sports, sailing should make full use of technology

Greg Williams (AUS) bonzz01@yahoo.com

Every event in the Paralympics has special equipment and divisions for all: amputee runners have modern prosthetics; vision-impaired (people) have a shadow or guide runner; paras and quads have high tech racing chairs... They don't race each other. They race against people with disabilities like their own. Inclusion of all does not diminish the event. Rather it enhances the accomplishments of those who compete to overcome disability. Sailing should be no different. Each disability requires different equipment to allow the competitors the opportunity to be successful in competition.

Editor: There is a danger in quoting people out of context. With the word quipment, Greg is referring to classes; however, his comment is equally appropriate to specialised devices.

9. The Sonar does not symbolise the Paralympic ideal

Colin Johanson (AUS) gizbytes@optusnet.com.au

The Sonar event does not exemplify a class of sailing that the Paralympics should showcase as a "disabled event"(It allows) the whole crew to move around the boat excluding some of the quad skippers who have previously shown their skills in tactics and steering, (and) will now be physically defeated, not by their equals, but by the rules. It will become a farce where teams will be hardly representative of disabled sailors.

A dinghy class would enable the full spectrum of sailors with disabilities to compete and surely should be considered as a replacement for an outmoded, difficult boat to transport to events, class such as the Sonar. More countries could be represented as a result of replacing the Sonar with the Access(which would better) demonstrate the ideals of the Paralympics.

The Sonar no longer represents the mainstream sailing by people with disabilities where excellence is judged by onlookers. when the winner exits the boat into a wheelchair rather than three sailors, with minimal obvious disabilities, merely walk away!

Editor: Even though I have heavily edited Colin submission, it remains long (and critical). Nevertheless, I include it because it reflects much of the thinking of recreation sailors (as opposed to competition sailors). It also allows me to make the following comments.

1. We need a forum for athleticism. For this reason, the retention of the Sonar is important.

2. The points system facilitates highly equitable competition between Sonar crews. It is when sailors vie for selection to a Sonar crew that inequity arises.

3. The Sonar may be difficult to transport, but it is hardly outmoded. At the 1996 Pre-Paralympic regatta in Florida, Gustaf Fresk (SWE) said This is the best three-person boat we have encountered.

4. Significant disability is not limited to wheelchair-users. Mher Avanesyan (ARM), a highly competitive Sonar sheet-hand, has no arms whatsoever.


Equity submissions referring to the Access Liberty

10. Good competition is not dependent on technical complexity

Nobi Nishii (JPN) nobinis@juno.ocn.ne.jp

I don't think that all people have good will (about) Access dinghy. They say Access dinghy is the wrong way of sailing. By this talking, I remember that the same thing was said about driving: Car with a manual transmission is good...Car with Automatic transmission is wrong .., a thing for a poor driver.
Now, almost all cars are automatics, and there are (few for) whom this (is the) wrong way. It is clear (what) sailing people choose - like the case of motorcar.

11. Discrimination

Cathy Post (AUS) gokate2@tpg.com.au

I would like to see the Access accepted in the Paralympics. My reasons for this are:

1. Severely disabled sailors should have the chance to compete at Paralympic level. At present, Access dinghies are the only boat that makes that possible.

2. In the past, sailors from a very small group have been able to compete in the Paralympics. If Access dinghies were included, it would make it possible for the best sailors to be picked from a much wider group of sailors.

3. I feel that if severely disabled sailors are not catered for in future, it could be said that they have been discriminated against.

4. Can worldwide disabled sailing organizations continue to say that they work for all disabled sailors if severely disabled sailors are not catered for?

12. Paralympic classes do not include the most frequently sailed classes

Herb Meyer (USA) maximeye@webperception.com

There are now over 700 Access Dinghies throughout the world, with tens of thousands of new sailors being introduced to the sport of sailing through community-based programs. This cannot be discounted.

Editor: 1. There are actually over 800 Access dinghies in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, France, Portugal and Finland. This figure, however, includes all three classes of Access dinghy: 2.3, 303 and Liberty. At this moment, the Liberty is actually the smallest class in the field.

2. Popularity is not the same as suitability: There are many more Hobies than Tornados; however, only the latter is an Olympic class.

13. The playing field is not level

Herb Meyer (USA) maximeye@webperception.com

I have had the opportunity and pleasure of sailing the (Access) Liberty on several occasions on San Francisco Bay. The boat handled the 10 to 15 knot conditions on the bay with grace and speed. It could have easily handled winds up to 20 to 25 knots. Reefing of the main and jib would have been easy. Also, the additional freeboard combined with a single, centre cockpit position prevented any water coming into the boat.

I took advantage of the servo (system) to handle the main and jib. I did not need to use the system to help me steer the boat. Obviously, severely disabled sailors even with the high-level injuries like Christopher Reeve could develop the skills to sail this boat with ease.

The Liberty would provide a level playing field for the majority of sailors with disabilities. I believe the development and use of the Liberty for future events is a wonderful and forward-thinking concept for the future of sailors with disabilities.



Practicality hy we should maintain the status quo

14. A new class means additional expense and organisation

Mick O'Connor (AUS) Michael.OConnor@csa.gov.au

Boats to cater for more "classification groups" would make things hard, both in an organisational sense and a financial one.

Editor: Mick will probably be aghast at my placing the above quote under the Practicality heading. However, few respondents have argued that the addition of a third class would lead to increased organisation and cost. Mick's comment is therefore included here.

15. Ability or talent?

Heiko Kroeger (GER) heiko.kroeger@max-jenne.de

Our sport is very young in Paralympic history. Most of the sailors are not very experienced in semi-professional sailing. So the question s a sailor non-competitive because of his disability, or because of his missing talent or training
cannot be answered in every case at the moment.

Editor: Heiko ability as a sailor is matched by his skill in debate. Firstly, he states that there is a wide range of ability among sailors with disabilities. I concede this point. It is inevitable that there will be both ordinary and extraordinary teams at world championships.

Having established his first point, Heiko uses it to justify why a difficult question cannot be answered. Here, he does not suggest that some sailors blame lack of success on disability rather than lack of talent (But see below). Nevertheless, he constructs his argument in a manner that causes the unasked question to linger in the mind of the reader. Let me therefore answer that question. I have attended various world championships and Paralympic regattas since 1994. I have seen some brilliant wins and some dismal defeats. I have often heard calls for more equitably constructed rules; however, I have never heard anything like /he won because s/he is less disabled than me.

16. Raise the standard; don't create new divisions.

Heiko Kroeger (GER) heiko.kroeger@max-jenne.de

I think that it's (important) to find out if disability or missing talent and experience is the reason for not winning a regatta. Real Paralympic sailing started maybe five years ago, and if you compared it to Olympic sailing, (it was) extremely unprofessional in most of the competing countries.

Editor: The above may appear to repeat the comments in x; however, it was extracted from a different e-mail. I have included it here so that I can make the following comments.

1. It is true that the standard of sailing for people with disabilities has risen significantly in the last decade. However, it is an exaggeration to refer to earlier standards as extremely unprofessional$Bc`(B[/P>

2. To some degree (I emphasise egree), the standard of sailing for people with disabilities has risen because talented sailors have entered the field. The entry of such sailors should be loudly applauded. Many of these sailors are minimally disabled. This, in itself, is incidental and therefore irrelevant. However, minimally disabled sailors displace maximally disabled sailors. Should we therefore change the rules to exclude minimally disabled sailors? No. Such an action would be retrograde, inequitable, discriminatory and exclusivist. Should we change the rules or add classes so as to cater for maximally disabled sailors? Yes.




17. Some current disparity is due to age

Heiko Kroeger (GER) heiko.kroeger@max-jenne.de

We should have a close look on the younger sailors (that) we will hopefully see in the (coming) years. I'm sure that many young sailors will be much more competitive than the older ones with the same disability. That life - there are no 60-year-old sailors in the 49er (class) at the Olympic games. I don't think that it's helpful to (discuss whether) we should divide classes in(to) "under 25" and "25 & older".

Editor: 1. The comment on age and competitiveness is valid: With identical (dis)abilities, younger people are more physically capable than older people. Age, however, brings wisdom. Noel Robins (AUS), who won gold in the Sydney 2000 Paralympic regatta, is about 63 years of age. Sailing is a sport in which skill is as important as physicality. The challenge is to structure the sport so that (without approaching a Master event in concept) it appeals to all ages.

2. The comment on age and splitting is also valid. However, we are not debating the need for a Masters division. Rather, we are debating the need for a division for sailors with severe disabilities. In this context, it is mischievous to compare age with disability.

18. Complete equity is impossible

Heiko Kroeger (GER) heiko.kroeger@max-jenne.de

My opinion is that we should be very careful in making new rules. If we try to create rules that every disabled person is able to compete on a 100% level with all other disabled, we will race only with a computer in closed rooms.

Editor: Yes, we should be cautious. However, the fact that we cannot establish 100% equity, should not prevent us from being as equitable as possible.

19. Physiognomy predicts performance, not disability

Heiko Kroeger (GER) heiko.kroeger@max-jenne.de

In able-bodied sport..everybody accepts that not everybody can compete in every sport at the same level. If you are 2.10 metres in hight and 95 kg in weight, you l never be a good cyclist, marathon runner, or 470 sailor. So, we have to say t (I&(Bsome disabled sailors that they are very welcome, but we are not able to change the rules so that they are able to compete on a 100% level. I was sailing the Laser for 19 years, and I never asked if we could change the rules so that everybody is allowed to sail only with his right arm. It was my decision, and I had lots of fun.

Editor: 1. Similar comment was made by Frank Hartleb (GER) hartleb@dbs-npc.de .

2. Some sports, such a boxing, recognise that weight may give a competitor an advantage. In the interests of equity, such sports create divisions. Boxing does not say to lightweights You are very welcome, but you must box with the heavyweights.
IFDS should not make similar statements to people with severe disabilities.

3. Variations in height and weight are inconsequential compared with variations in disability (The FCS mentions neither height nor weight). If some sports differentiate between individuals on relatively inconsequential grounds, IFDS is under a powerful ethical obligation to differentiate between individuals on consequential grounds.

4. A tall heavy man may not make a good 470 sailor; however, he may make a fine Star sailor. The range of Olympic boats is sufficiently extensive to accommodate most physiognomies. So too, the range of Paralympic boats should be sufficiently extensive to accommodate most disabilities. Indeed, it would be unfair if it were otherwise.





20. Consider the relative opportunity created by each class

Heiko Kroeger (GER) heiko.kroeger@max-jenne.de

f a quad is unable to compete successfully in the 2.4mR because of his disability, but is able to (compete successfully) in the Sonar, we should not divide the 2.4mR class or add a new class. If competing successfully is not possible, we should think about changing things.

Editor: Should the Sonar be the only class available to quads?

21. There are too few sailors for numerous classes

Frank Hartleb (GER) hartleb@dbs-npc.de

we feel that there is no need to make any changes regarding classes. The 2.4mR is ideal for yachtsmen with a handicap. It is spread all over the world, and a lot of events take place everywhere. Handicapped and able-bodied yachtsmen are able to compete together.

The Sonar is a very safe class and, therefore, it is well suited for disabled yachtsmen, no matter which disability they might have. The disadvantage is, that this class is (essentially limited to) Great Britain and North America, and is quite expensive, but sailing is never cheap.

Perhaps a dinghy might be cheaper, but it is not as solid as the Sonar and it is just (only?) well known in North America, but not in the rest of the world.

Because the number of yachtsmen worldwide is very small, there is no need to increase the number of boat classes. Otherwise you couldn't guarantee real competition, and classes (events?) may have to be cancelled (due to lack of numbers).

Editor: 1. It is unclear what Frank means by dinghy. The reference to North America suggests that he may mean the Martin 16, a Canadian keelboat. If he means the Access, he is unaware of the Australian origin of the class, and its wide distribution (see x).

2. Frank uses the proportionality argument: few sailors, therefore, few classes. In reality however, the number of sailors is large The proportionality argument; accordingly, makes the case for the contrary view: many sailors, therefore, more classes.

22. There are too few sailors for numerous divisions.

Thierry Schmitter (NED) schmitter-hartman@zonnet.nl

(Some severely disabled people) try to find thousands of reasons for not being competitive against a less disabled (person) rather than looking for the technical solution they could find to compensate their handicap (if any). Very often it's just a question of talent, training (and) hours spent that makes the difference. Please, don't therefore make disabled sailing indigestible by splitting it in "every disability its own class and medal" system.

Editor: 1. There are not enough sailors with disabilities to create divisions for every disability. However, there are sufficient sailors to make two or three divisions within the 2.4mR class.

2. In a later e-mail, Thierry concedes It's impossible for me to argue what would be the needs and requirements (of a quadriplegic sailor) the debate is about catering for all levels of disability.

3. It is assumed that Thierry uses the word $BOU(Bechnology to refer to electric/mechanical aids rather than sailing skill.

23. Ability, not lack of disability

Thierry Schmitter (NED) schmitter-hartman@zonnet.nl

I think that Heiko and Tom were, before sailing 2.4mR, nearly professional sailors; at least they spent many hours in a sailing boat before. I would rather conclude that this would be the reason why they are so overwhelming superior (to) the rest of the field, rather than the fact that they are "minimally disabled".$Bc`(B[/P>

Editor: Everyone I have talked to has nothing but praise for the skill of these fine sailors.

24. Reserves have a place

Bruno Valentim (POR) bvvalent@fc.up.pt

It is my belief that the (International) Paralympic Committee is now engaged in the promotion of sport for the most severely disabled. So, our major argument is that (Access) Libertys will enable severely disabled persons to participate. Therefore, our fight for the next Paralympic circle should be the addition of 12 to 16 more sailors. Of course, if that is not possible, then we can appeal to the reserves of the Sonar class. However, I don't agree with the following argument:

"I know the Sonar sailors will be in uproar over this suggestion (that there be no reserves), but heck, do the Olympic men 4 x 100m swimming team or the women 4 x 400m track team have reserves who get gold medals? Do any "reserves" in the Olympics get a medal? I think not. So, why should a sailing reserve get a gold medal (in the Paralympics), taking opportunity away from a legitimate sailor in a new class?"

The main goal of the Paralympics is not a medal but the participation under the Olympic (Paralympic?) spirit; and that is enough to legitimate the presence of reserves.

Editor: 1. For 2000, SPOC (Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee) allowed 85 places for sailors. For 2004, APOC (Athens Paralympic Organising Committee) will allow 80 places. Future organising committees will probably not allow an increase in places or classes. This, however, does not mean that we should not try to expand sailing within the Paralympics.

2. The rules concerning Sonar reserves cannot be changed until after the 2004 Paralympics. If Sonar reserves were eliminated, there would be sufficient places for two 2.4mR divisions.

25. The former classification system was more equitable

Frank Hartleb (GER) hartleb@dbs-npc.de

o get rid of injustices with the revision of the classification system means to create new injustices. You will never find the Perfect system. From our point of view, the previous system was more fair than the new one. We can't follow (your argument or agree with) your opinion that severe(ly) disabled yachtsmen are excluded (by the current system). Quite the contrary, the (current) system excludes yachtsmen who are lightly disabled. This is the main reason why we don't support separation into different classes. We expect disadvantages (will) increase (with new) classes. The (current) classification system (provides) an excellent opportunity for severe(ly) and light(ly) disabled yachtsmen to compete together.

Editor: Some times one must choose between the lesser of two evils. I believe that we should aim to exclude no one; however, if some exclusion is unavoidable, it is better to exclude the minimally disabled (who can sail in open competition) rather than the maximally disabled (who may not be able to compete at all).

26. Classes should remain unchanged

Geoff Holt (GBR) hambleside@aol.com

Since your letter "did the rounds" (I don't know of any disabled sailor in the UK who has not discussed it), Sailability asked its Associate Members ("disabled sailors") for their views. (The consensus) is that 'the Paralympic classes should remain unchanged' and that the existing Functional Classification System was sufficiently good to allow all levels of disability to compete on equal terms.

Editor: The above is an Official view. Geoff holds a different personal view.


General Comments

27. What will promote growth?

Jim.Leatherman (USA) Jim.Leatherman@ssa.gov

T]his sport is a great one, and one, if managed correctly, could make the jump to the "big show." In order for that to happen, in my opinion, countries must stop thinking about how they can manipulate the points and all the rest, and instead, think about what is right for the continued growth of the sport. Regrettably, we are only a few people away from losing all momentum. If (key) people like (names deleted) walk away, we will be hard pressed to keep the ship upright... We need to push hard for growth, and actively look for our replacements, to ensure the survival of the sport.

28. Affordability

Keith Hobbs (USA) keith.c.hobbs@sympatico.ca

ffordability is a key factor in broadening the participation base for sailing, bringing sailing to new sailors worldwide.

29. Be cautious when setting eligibility criteria

Bruno Valentim (POR) bvvalent@fc.up.pt

One should be very careful when introducing a new class. Unless it is especially designed /suitable for maximally disabled sailors, and limited to their use in competition, a new class will become dominated by minimally disabled sailors. Such a result would defeat the purpose for which a new class might be introduced.

Editor: 1. The wording of Bruno's statement has been significantly changed from the original Portuguese English. It is therefore not cited as a quote. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the above conveys a message with which Bruno would agree.

2. Bruno makes a valid point: There is no sense in introducing a new class for sailors with severe disabilities only to have sailors with minimum disabilities displace them from competition.

30. We need new faces

Herb Meyer (USA) maximeye@webperception.com

$Bc`O&(Blite sailors at the top of the pyramid are being well served through (organizations like) U.S. Sailing Association, and by the Paralympic Movement within the USA$Bc`(I&(B We are in a period of evolution (possibly even revolution) regarding our future. Within the United States, we see the same faces at most of the regional and national events. Everyone likes to see new and more skilled racers coming up the line. The base of the triangle needs to be filled with new sailors from all areas of our community. With encouragement, perhaps one (in) ten will move up, and be interested in racing.$Bc`(B[/P>

Editor: This is valid comment. Sailing for people with disabilities is growing; however, we need to broaden the base of recreational sailing by encouraging more integrated sailing, and by embracing classes that are more appropriate and less expensive.

31. Levelling down - the Hobie experience

Thierry Schmitter (NED) schmitter-hartman@zonnet.nl

$Bc`O<(BT]he initiative of the Hobie trapseat, (at) first sight, is fantastic. You would think it's really for all disabilities, including the "severely disabled". But it is a perfect example of levelling down. The fact that the rules do not allow the disabled sailor to pass from one side to the other side of the boat is artificial, unnatural and even discriminatory against the disabled that would be able to do it like paraplegics. A catamaran tacks really slowly, which makes it a perfect boat for disabled (people) because it leaves you time to roll from one side of the trampoline to the other. Furthermore, the Hobie 16 is designed to be double trapezed, so you can imagine how difficult it is to handle the boat with a little bit (of) wind and swell when one crew is on the downwind side on a trapseat and the other is upwind on trapeze! To make the catamaran a success in IFDS, this twisted trapseat rule should change as soon as possible! And personally, the choice of the Hobie 16 could also be revised, but this is another discussion.$Bc`(B[/P>

Editor: 1. Unfortunately, there have been few submissions supporting classes other than the Sonar, 2.4mR and Liberty. This incidental comment on catamarans is included for balance (but see also x).

2. There is a strong body of opinion in support of levelling down in trapseat sailing. Indeed, it has been thought by many that trapseat sailing might provide a forum for competition for profoundly disabled sailors who cannot compete in Sonars and 2.4mRs. I understand that this remains the aim of trapseat sailors. In this regard, comment by Mike Strahle would have added value to this debate.

3. Some people are not opposed to levelling down. Antero Karjaleinen (FIN), an accomplished 2.4m sailor, said that the 2002 Trapseat World Championship was the best event he had ever contested.

32. No mention of catamarans

Mick O'connor (AUS) Michael.OConnor@csa.gov.au

I noted, that in the 17 or so pages of discussion in WDS8, there was not one mention of multihull boats!! The recent success of the Hobie 16 Trapseat World Titles in Canada shows the growing popularity of this class. Congratulations to the Canadians for organising this successful regatta. And special mention must be made of Mike Strahle (USA) (who) has worked and travelled tirelessly to promote this class

33. Who are you lobbying for?

Colin Johanson (AUS) gizbytes@optusnet.com.au

Has it that the quads you are fighting to support had nothing of relevance in their replies to you, or is it that their replies all got lost in the (computer) crash? I'm sure others like me, who aren't overseas or 2.4 sailors, sent you comments; but I certainly didn't recognize any Access only sailors in your quotes. [WDS8] seemed very much a concoction of comments from the paras who sail 2.4mR and Access, and overseas competitors

Editor: Mike Wood (GBR) is a quad. So too is Allan Smith (GBR). Like this edition, WDS8 was a compilation of comments from those who contacted me. What else could it be?

34. Terminology

Herb Meyer (USA) maximeye@webperception.com

$Bc`O*(B use the phrase "sailors with disabilities" rather than "disabled sailors". After all, we are not "disabled sailors".$Bc`(B[/P>

Editor: Apt comment. Note change forthwith. Herb also suggests that DSI, the proposed name for IFDS, should be Disability Sailing International rather than Disabled Sailing International.

35. Are decision-makers in it for themselves?

Vinny Lauwers (AUS) skipper@parasail.com.au

$Bc`O*(B have read through your attachment, and it has struck a few cords with my own experiences. One is with the people and organizations that I have been involved with during and since my trip: There seems to be too many people involved in the decision-making who are either primarily concerned about what's in it for them or the organisation, and not for those who participate and/or for the good of the sport. To me, this is very disappointing; and unless their views change, or they are replaced, it will continue. I don't have the answers, but I do believe many people$Bc`QT(B attitudes have to change in order to bring to life the pleasure of sailing for all to enjoy.$Bc`(B[/P>

36. We need more than brief comment

Jim.Leatherman (USA) Jim.Leatherman@ssa.gov

I have a great deal to say about this great sport, but I guess I am a bit reserved now, plan to sit back now and see if there are others who are willing to step up to the plate. At such a critical time, we need more than 30-second sound bites.



This edition of WDS and its predecessor do not present the whole gamut of the debate about the future of sailing for people with disabilities. Indeed, these editions do not present even a representative sample of the various opinions that have been expressed on this topic. These few quotes and editorial comment serve only to highlight some of the ideas that are currently circulating among the international community. I do not pretend to have the correct answers.

We cling to the belief that sailing is a sport in which everyone can compete with equal facility able-bodied against disabled, and minimally disabled against maximally disabled. This belief is strongest among 2.4mR and Access sailors. The belief, however, is flawed.

I am not sure that I can identify the deep psychology that gives life to the belief. In those of us with disabilities, it may be a deep-felt need to define a context in which disability does not matter. Alternatively, it may be as simple as the pleasure of winning against someone with superior physical abilities.

In the past, we have held dear to the code of the amateur. In this millennium, we must understand that elite competition is increasingly professional. Competition is now so fierce that small differences in ability lead to enormous differences in outcome.

By all means, let us cling to the ideal of sailing for everyone, but let us also face the reality that sailing cannot be, and never has been, a competition in which disability does not matter. Equity demands change, and there is a limit to the degree to which concern for practicality can legitimately resist that demand.

If there is to be change, it will occur via the following process.

1. Sailors and other interested people will discuss the issues at national and international level. They will lobby members of their national teams (competitors, coaches, assistants etc.) and their national sailing authorities. Those authorities will decide upon policy and instruct their national representative to IFDS to give effect to that policy, or they will leave policy undecided and empower the national representative to exercise his/her discretion when representing the authority.

2. At the IFDS Sailors$Bc`(B?Forum at the World Disabled Sailing Championships in Medemblik (NED) in September, national teams and representatives will debate the issues and decide upon recommendations to be put to the Members$Bc`(B?Meeting. Please note that recommendations from Sailors$Bc`(B?Forums are advisory only.

3. At the IFDS Members Meeting in Medemblik, representatives (and representatives only) will vote upon motions given on notice in the agenda and put from the floor. Motions put from the floor may, of course, reflect recommendations made by the earlier Sailors Forum. Subject to the constitution, successful motions will change IFDS policy. No change, however, can be introduced if it will significantly alter competition before or during the 2004 Paralympic regatta.

A suggested agenda for change (if there is to be any) follows.

2002 Adopt, in principle, broad statements of policy concerning change.

Debate the statements throughout 2002-3.

2003 Adopt, in effect, tightly defined statements of policy concerning change.

Refine the statements throughout 2003-4.

2004 (Athens Paralympics) Endorse the policy for 2004-2008 including the 2008

Paralympic regatta.

At the best of times, Sailors$Bc`(B?Forums can be difficult, not least because they are conducted only in English. When controversial issues are discussed, Sailors$Bc`(B?Forums can be lively. To focus discussion at the Medemblik Forum, I have taken the liberty of drafting a series of proposals reflecting the issues debated in WDS8 and WDS9. If you agree with any of the following proposals, vote for them; if you disagree with any, vote against them. Each proposal is written in plain English (in bold) and is followed by a short statement of supporting argument (in small print).

There is little time in which to conduct the Sailors Forum at Medemblik (sailors will be preoccupied with competition). I assume that all proposals will be opposed. I therefore suggest that we adopt the following approach.

Before the Forum, select two opponents to speak against each motion, and one proponent to speak for it. At the Forum, the chairman will introduce the motion. The two opponents will be allowed two minutes each in which to speak against the motion. The proponent will then be allowed one minute in which to speak for the motion. The chairman will then put the motion to the vote (by show of hands). In this way, I believe that with discipline, the Forum can accept or reject all fourteen motions in about 90 minutes. This should allow time to discuss other business

The above approach will work only if there is sufficient discussion during the championship to enable almost everyone to make up his or her mind before the Forum.


Suggested proposals for debate at the Sailors Forum

Where it can not equally service the needs of sailors with minimal disabilities and sailors with maximal disabilities, IFDS should favour the latter because sailors with minimal disabilities can compete in open events but sailors with maximal disabilities can not equitably do so.

IFDS tries to cater for people with all levels of disability. In the interests of equity, IFDS may do more in the future to help sailors with severe disabilities (See A.); however, it will not do so by declaring ineligible any sailor who is (or could be) eligible to sail a Sonar under current rules (See also D.).

IFDS encourages competition. Within appropriate class rules, therefore, IFDS should foster the development of any device that permits a person with a disability to become more competitive. However, where one or more such devices greatly enhance ability, a sailor's classification may be changed.

The current maximum number of FCS points (14) is high. This maximum permits the selection of crewmembers with only moderate and minimal disabilities. This greatly decreases the likelihood of a maximally disabled person being selected as crew. In the interest of equity, the maximum should be reduced. In the interests of safety, however, the maximum should not be reduced too far.

The Functional Classification System (FCS) was designed for the three-person keelboat. The FCS has been imperfectly modified for the single-person keelboat. It permits sailors with maximal disabilities to compete with sailors with minimal disabilities. In the interest of equity, practical elements for the 2.4mR FCS should be redesigned.

Currently, the greatest inequity occurs within the single-person keelboat discipline. In rough conditions, a quad controls a 2.4mR with one very imperfect hand (S/he stabilises her/himself with the other); a lower-leg amputee, however, has effective use of all four limbs. Indeed, a lower-leg amputee can hardly be considered disabled in a 2.4mR. In the interest of equity, the maximum for the 2.4mR should be lowered (See also G. & H.).

Most boats are steered by hand. It is an anomaly of design that permits foot steering in the 2.4mR. This anomaly contributes to inequity in this class. Hand steering should be the default directional control except where alternatives are permitted (See C.).

Even if the maximum number of points is lowered (See F.), and hand steering becomes the default mode (See G.), the range of permitted disability is too great to allow fair competition in the 2.4mR. Competition in the 2.4mR, therefore, should be split to provide a forum in which maximally disabled sailors can race against others with a degree of equity.

In conjunction with the International 2.4mR Class Association, IFDS should lobby ISAF to nominate the 2.4mR for the Olympics - either as a special Olympic class for sailors with disabilities, or as an open Olympic class for all eligible sailors (disabled and able-bodied). Sailors with disabilities could then compete in open competition at the ultimate elite level.

Technology has advanced so as to enable people with profound disabilities to sail. This has led to the expectation that competition at the elite level should be available to such people. IFDS, however, needs to keep pace with developments in technology. Otherwise, sailors with disabilities will feel disenfranchised. IFDS should establish a committee (or charge the Technical and Medical Committees) to investigate new classes and technology with a view to providing a forum for competition for sailors with profound disabilities (See A.).