Following our recent interview with Juan Kouyoumdjian, Valencia Sailing talked to James Dadd, VOR Chief Measurer, and got his reaction.
Valencia Sailing: Can you tell us what position you held in the 2008-9 Volvo Ocean Race? Have you held similar positions in other major international sailing events?
James Dadd: I was the Chief Measurer of the Volvo Open 70 Rule, and chairman of the Rule Management Group (RMG), who wrote the class rules, interpreted them, amended them, measured the boats, established rule compliance and issued certificates. I also held this position in the 2005-2006 race, and also worked as a measurer for the 2001-2002 race. I was also on the Measurement Committee for the 2000, 2003 & 2007 America’s Cups, although very much an apprentice for the 2000 Cup. I am also the Chief Measurer for the Royal Ocean Racing Club, for whom I have worked for nearly 12 years.
Valencia Sailing: Were you personally involved with the measurement of the two Ericsson Racing yachts?
James Dadd: Yes. The RMG was a small body with only 3 people measuring the boats. We all worked together on all of the boats.
Valencia Sailing: Were the measurers and/or the VOR organization in general negatively predisposed towards Ericsson Racing?
James Dadd: Absolutely not. It is fundamental to this job that every competitor is treated equally. Sometimes competitors get a bit paranoid, thinking we are only looking at them in detail, but that most definitely was not the case. We looked at everyone in more detail last race than ever before.
Valencia Sailing: Juan Kouyoumdjian in his interview stated two issues: “First, the penalty Ericsson 3 received before race start for the keel and, second, the prohibition of using on Ericsson 4 the keel we had designed for her”. What’s your opinion on that? He also states that measurers “manipulated” the operation. Did you do anything unlawful?
James Dadd: Of course not, why on earth would we do that? The only reason we wouldn’t issue certificates to any boat with such keels fitted was that they didn’t comply with the rules. In the E3 case the ISAF Jury ruled that we had acted appropriately, and in the E4 case I think the team realised there wasn’t a hope in hell that it was a rule compliant keel, so went to plan B. There were a number of aspects with that keel that were in conflict with the rules as written. Russell Green spent a considerable amount of time going through all of the correspondence and was perfectly happy that we had done more than needed in trying to resolve the situation before anyone set up in Alicante. I have absolutely no doubt that we acted correctly.
Valencia Sailing: He also openly claims that “the document submitted by the Chief Measurer to the Jury was forged”. What document was that?
James Dadd: I haven’t got a clue, but I would love to see it!!
Valencia Sailing: Right before the in-shore regatta in Singapore Juan Kouyoumdjian claims you spent 4 days in the shed, trying to prove Ericsson 4 was 1.2mm too long. The jury then rejected your claim. Was she really 1.2mm too long?
James Dadd: Actually the length measurement did not form part of the protest. The protest we instigated was based around the fact that the team had removed a section of the hull, with one of our measurement screws in it, and replaced the section, and the screw, without telling us so that we could measure the completed hull prior to the start of the race. The precise location of this screw affected the length, draft and floatation measurements. This was a clear oversight, not intentional, but we had to act and take it to the jury to retain the validity of the measurement process. The Jury found that actually the rules implied the measurement was then invalid, but didn’t explicitly state it, so the protest was rejected. This was an eye opener for us and I hope it has helped to improve the rules. I think the jury made the right decision, but whatever, you have to accept the jury’s decision and abide by it.
At the end of the day the boys on E4 deserved their win and those on E3 also did exceptionally. I will never forget shacking Magnus Olsson’s hand as he stepped ashore in Rio.
It is always the job of the competitor to push the rules, and our job to keep them honest. Disagreements happen, but there is no point in taking things personally, it is only a yacht race!!