Mark Slats Breach of NOR 3.1.4 Telephone Contact
On 28th January 2019 At 10:30, Race HQ received a communication from Dick Koopmans, Mark Slats’ team manager, saying that a storm was predicted in the Bay of Biscay just as Mark Slats was expecting to finish, and asking for the race finish line to be moved 50 miles offshore. This was denied.
11:59: Race HQ responded to Koopmans saying that Race Chairman Don McIntyre had sent a weather warning to Slats and that Mark had subsequently called via his safety sat phone to discuss the weather scenario. Slats advised that he was receiving weather forecasts onboard and was aware of the approaching storm. The email advised Koopmans that Slats was not slowing down and planned to continue towards the finish line. It added, ‘But if you want a message passed on about the weather, we are happy to do that. Just email here’.
12:21: Koopmans replied by email saying that ‘I spoke to Gerrit Hiemstra, one of our leading meteorologists in Holland… In his opinion it is completely unsafe to sail into the Bay of Biscay. He suggests to stay outside and finish in La Coruna or Brest, but not in Les Sables d’Olonne. This is also the (unofficial) opinion of the Dutch Coastguard and Falmouth Coastguard.
I am very unhappy with your advice and consider to call Mark on his Iridium phone, whatever the consequences may be.’
13:16: Race Chairman Don McIntyre responded: ‘Just a reminder, we never give directives to entrants. We give opinions and the final choice is up to entrants. Mark is receiving weather reports on his radio….
I would strongly suggest that you do NOT call Mark. I have offered to message him any advice you wish to send him in relation to safety avoiding the storm. I am awaiting for that advice. All decisions are the responsibility of the skipper.…I am now officially asking you for your advice on the safest route for him to take if you wish to be involved with efforts to send him to the safest place. I will then pass him that from you.’
13:28: Message from GGR HQ to Mark. ‘Dick advice: head to la Corunna or Brest to miss the storm.’
13:33: Email from Koopmans to GGR: ‘Ignoring authorities like Coastguard and top meteorologist. I do not trust the Race Committee on their knowledge in the situation. I think safety is now more important than rules.
I will send Mark messages to his Iridium phones from now on.
13:34: Email from Koopmans to GGR: ‘Do not speak to Mark in my name.’
13:38: Race HQ to Koopmans: ‘Mark will be penalised for breach of rules. We have NOT been directed by any authority and if you look at your emails, we are awaiting your advice on where to send him. Your actions and comments DO NOT relate in the best interests of Mark’s race and we are both working towards Mark’s safety. PLEASE place your message through GGR. If you need clarification, please ring. WE ARE STILL WAITING YOUR ADVICE.
YOU RISK PENALISING MARK FOR NO REASON AT ALL… YOUR CHOICE. WE HAVE MADE IT CLEAR WE CAN SEND ANY MESSAGE TO HIM. WE ARE STILL WAITING. YOU MUST NOT CONTACT MARK.
13:46: Email from Koopmans to Race HQ: ‘Safety is more important than penalties. You can read all the messages later and decide on penalties.’
3.1.4 A Skipper may only contact the GGR control by GGR sat phone or YB3 texting during the voyage and may not use these to contact any other party except in an emergency.
3.1.12 Failure to comply with any of these rules , will lead to the skipper having to abandon the race.
- Koopmans is the Official Manager of MARK SLATS as required in the NOR.
- Koopmans ignored GGR written advice multiple times to NOT contact MARK SLATS or a Breach of the Notice of Race would occur and a penalty would be applied.
- Koopmans messaged Slats directly (confirmed by Mark Slats)
- A breach of the Notice of Race 3.1.4 is confirmed.
MARK SLATS is moved to the CHICHESTER CLASS.
Time Penalty Substitute
The GGR committee has determined that as a result of the actions following the unauthorised satellite communications. NO material benefit has been gained.
A Time Penalty Substitutes has been considered by the committee and while the entrant has not requested it due to time constraints, the committee has allowed it.
For the unauthorised sat phone use an 18 hour time penalty is applied.
For the total disregard (with intent) to warnings by the GGR to the Manager, an 18 hour time penalty is applied.
As the GGR committee had previously agreed that the penalty box be moved to 20 degrees North Latitude, the total 36 hour penalty will be added to Mark Slats’ finish time and his OFFICIAL FINISHING TIME will be amended accordingly.
MARK SLATS returns from Chichester Class to the GGR.