A boat in distress calls for rescue? Don’t care, go your own way

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A boat in distress calls for rescue? Don’t care, just go your own way. Unbelievable, but true
. This is the moral of what happened to Franco Salmoiraghi, owner of the X-332 Aria di Burrasca, who lost the Giraglia, the queen of Mediterranean offshore races. The reason? He rescued a boat in dire straits that had launched with the VHF on Mayday, as the “law of the sea” prescribes: but the jury instead of thanking him and paying him back for the time lost in the rescue, disqualified him. Read below what happened and why this sets a dangerous precedent for the future of those who find themselves in trouble and seek rescue.

THE INCREDIBLE CASE OF FRANCO SALMOIRAGHI’S DISQUALIFICATION FOR UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT

Mariel
Mariel

JUNE 17, 2016, THE RELIEF
Past the Giraglia rock, Franco Salmoiraghi, owner and skipper of Aria di Burrasca, decides to change course to go answer a mayday and rescue the Grand Soleil 34.1 Mariel which had lost its rudder, was not steering, and had reduced range VHF during the current gale. Squall Air reaches Mariel, radios the harbormaster and stays downwind parallel to the boat in distress until it is certain that help has arrived. So navigation resumes.

2. JUNE 17, NO REPAIR
Salmoiraghi, upon the arrival of the regatta in Genoa at the Yacht Club Italiano, submits a request to the Race Committee for repairs (i.e. to return to him in the calculation of the total time, the time lost during the rescue operations). Hot estimate that the lost time is about 5 hours (“The onboard GPS,” he tells us, “prior to the bailout rest, indicated an estimated time of arrival in Genoa between 06.40 and 07.05 on 17/06. Aria di Burrasca arrived in Genoa, after the rescue, at 11.53 a difference of about 5 hours from the GPS estimate.”). Salmoiraghi and the entire crew return to Lavagna, the boat’s port, to rest a few hours after a “tough” race with rescue in the way. as he is about to present at the Italian Yacht Club, is warned by the jury that met without him, who ruled that no time allowance should be given to him. The only consolation was the request to give him a special award.

(HERE THE REQUEST FOR REPARATION AND JURY DECISION)

Salmoiraghi delivers his speech at the award ceremony
Salmoiraghi delivers his speech at the award ceremony

3. JUNE 18, A VERY DANGEROUS PRIZE
Salmoiraghi and his Aria di Burrasca, had they received the rebate, would have won the Giraglia in their category. Instead, they present him with a special impromptu award dedicated to “fair play.” Salmoiraghi takes the microphone and says this award he received is most dangerous: it was not a sporting merit, it was a sailor’s duty to respond to a distress call. Says Salmoiraghi: “We responded to Mariel’s mayday because it is a DUTY of a man and a sailor (rule No. 1 of NIPAM and the regatta rules themselves). This affair risks corroborating the behavior (that yes, unsportsmanlike, as well as sanctionable by law) of the many who have turned a deaf ear to the Mariel’s distress call and the subsequent communications between Aria di Burrasca and the Italian and French captains’ offices, audible to at least half of the fleet that was sailing that night from Giraglia to Genoa. No one outside of a racing but solo mini 6.50, unable to intervene given the wind and sea conditions, thought to get on the radio. In those moments, even a radio contact, knowing that someone is listening, can make a rescue operation safer or at least less lonely.”

4. OCT. 29, THE APPELLATE PANEL’S DECISION.
Salmoiraghi appeals, seeking so-called “redress.” The appellate panel on October 29, 2016, after 4 1/2 months accepted the appeal and recognized Aria di Burrasca’s right to receive a rebate for the time lost during the rescue, but refers the quantification of reparations to the same jury that had tried the case in June. The new hearing is convened for 11/26/2016 in Lavagna. Convinced it was a simple clarification between gentlemen Salmoiraghi accepted the jury composed 2/3 of the same judges who had already tried the case in Genoa.

Gale Air
Gale Air

5. NOV. 26, “THE GIRAFFE WON!”
The Jury estimates no less than two hours as the time lost by Gale Air in sailing downwind to the right course to render aid to Mariel. As far as the record shows, no account is taken of the time Aria di Burrasca subsequently lost in getting upwind, nor of the lengthening of the course compared to that of the other competitors who sailed from the Giraglia on a direct course to Genoa, nor of the marked drop in wind that contributed to delaying the boat in landing in Genoa. The jury then decides to give Aria di Burrasca two hours’ bonus and informs Salmoiraghi that he won the combined Giraglia (Aria di Burrasca needed only 1 hour and 12 minutes to win).

6. NOVEMBER 26, THE HOAX
At the same time, the presiding judge accused Salmoiraghi of gross misconduct because he claimed to have lost five hours, but the jury acknowledged that he would have lost only two. The charge was brought on the basis of Rule 69 (unsportsmanlike conduct and gross misconduct), with risk of referral. The hearing is immediately held with Salmoiraghi finding himself defending himself.

7. NOVEMBER 26, “YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED!”
Aria di Burrasca is then disqualified from the Giraglia offshore race. Strangely, the boat and all the crew (absolutely blameless) are disqualified, and not just Salmoiraghi, the boat’s captain. In addition, a DNE (Did Not Escard) is imposed, not discardable, a meaningless punishment in a race series that does not involve discarding.

20161207_2002228. IN FRANCE HE’S A REAL SAILOR, IN OURS A “JANITOR”
While in Italy he was disqualified (Salmoiraghi decided on a further appeal, on which we will keep you informed) the Yacht Club De France, co-organizer of the Giraglia, invited him to an evening at its headquarters in Paris and presented him with an award for his gesture (which Salmoiraghi considers a sailor’s obligation).

THE “BOTTOM LINE”
This is the chronicle of everything that happened, but what we would like to note from this whole intricate story is the concept of sea rescue. This decision is likely to set a dangerous precedent, contrary to Article 489 of the Navigation Code and Rule 1 of the Racing Rules of Sailing, which establishes the OBLIGATORY nature of rescue (1.1: “A boat or competitor must give all possible help to any person or vehicle in distress.”) In the future, won’t it be more convenient to rescue a boat in distress at sea? What do you guys think?

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