Society has taken a strange turn where many people feel they can express their opinion and say anything they want without any consequences. And, when they get reprimanded for this "opinion", they tend to claim their free speech has been violated. Just because one has the right to do or say something, doesn't always mean one should.
The Wednesday Night Sailboat Races are very blessed to have so many companies donate their time, money and resources in an effort to give back to the community. These sponsors donate these resources because they want to give back, not because of the huge financial return they receive. Donating trophies for a regatta is always a challenge, because one always wants them to be unique, special and appreciated. I try very hard to acknowledge our sponsors and give them the respect they deserve. When someone has donated their time and money to give something away for free, it is expected they are shown gratitude and it should be respectful to give them your full attention. That doesn't always happen at the awards presentation. This isn't just with CLRA; I've noticed it with every club in our area. One of the great things about competition is when you do well, you are recognized in front of all your competitors. This is your chance to be acknowledged that you and your team has worked hard and have done very well. If you feel you need to continue your conversation, just excuse yourself and finish the conversation elsewhere. It really shows one doesn't care about the activities when they continue their conversation while a speaker is talking, or even a special guest. And on top of that, don't criticize the prize given; especially in front of the sponsor. When your name is called; walk up, accept the prize, say thank you, walk back to your drink and smile. If you don't like the prize, make your comments away from the venue, maybe in a closet of your own home - and leave them there.
If there's something you feel you are willing to donate your time and improve, come to me privately, or call me later, and offer your services to improve the issue. I am usually pretty open about listening to suggestions or comments on ways to improve the overall process. I will be honest about if I think the suggestion will work or not. If I don't think something will work, or feasible, I will give an explanation on my thoughts on why. There are many situations I have already worked through the issues and is why we have the course set-up we have. Sometimes I answer my own questions and talk myself into the suggestion. But, when you do want a change, or make a suggestion, be reasonable, respectful and rational. We are out there to give 45-60 boats a good event, but keep everyone safe. I have chosen to keep the boardboats separated from the keel boats for safety reasons. That is why they are on two different race courses. I keep the B fleet furthest away from the boards because they are not used to looking for smaller boats zipping around them. I have the windward gate for several reasons: it directs traffic at the windward mark better, gives a separation of race courses and adds a huge tactical aspect. Some classes make a left hand turn and some make a right hand turn. It has been asked for me to get rid of the gate and go back to a typical single mark. I won't do that. If you are approaching the windward mark(s) on port and feel that having 4-9 boats coming at you on starboard is dangerous, don't do that! The RRS have rules for that and you have chosen to make that approach. Will I place the marks so that the left gate appears favored on a port layline, yes. Just like I will tuck the gates behind the shoal to add another tactical challenge. The anchored cruisers don't appear in the middle of the race course by accident. I have seen several times where a few boats are marching downwind and the choice comes: left or right of the blue Morgan. There have been boats on attack and made big gains by separating from each other and going around the obstruction. South wind, do you go left or right of the shoal? My point is, all these factors have been calculated way before you start rigging your boat for the night. There is no need to come up to me and accuse me of ruining your race because of where the gate and/or the leeward mark was placed , the angle of the offset mark, or the fact that the boat that has been anchored there all year magically got in your way. I have always said I will attempt to make the pin side of the line favored at the start and the pier favored at the finish; it just manages traffic better. If there's an aspect of the course set-up you don't understand, please let me know and come out with me to set-up the marks. I can easily explain why things are as they are. Maybe, you can explain an issue you have on the course and we can work out a solution.
I will do what I need to do to protect my relationship with the sponsors. And my race committee. If that means cutting all sponsors to preserve their respect and dramatically simplifying the race courses, that will happen. There is definitely a time and place to express your opinion and to be honest; a public venue is usually not one of them. It has become an awkward dynamic where society feels it is ok to be rude. We have to be the examole and change that.