Pandemic Rule Violations

Dear Thistle Sailors:
The TCA Executive Committee posted the following announcement on our new website a few weeks ago:

Attention Regatta Organizers and Sailors
The COVID-19 pandemic requires that we call your attention to the following: according to our Constitution, “The Association has jurisdiction over all Thistle activities. Its Class Rules govern all sanctioned Thistle races regardless of by whom they are held.”
In this regard, the Executive Committee of the TCA only sanctions Thistle races or regattas for which every reasonable effort has been made to be in compliance with pandemic-related governmental regulations and the requirements of the host’s insurance carrier (frequently this is the Burgee Program through US Sailing with Chubb.)
We ask that sailors and organizers be informed and post and conduct only events that meet this standard. Let us be safe, protect our friends, and look forward to a return to “normal.”

Our class rightly claims to value the relationships among people who race the boats and we often discuss the decision to sail or race our sailboats in terms of safety for all, especially the less skilled among us. We have been party to race officers’ discussions about higher winds and we err on the side of protecting the more vulnerable teams from extreme conditions. We always encourage and sometimes require the wearing of PFDs. We avoid holding races and advise seeking shelter when lightning approaches.

The TCA Executive Committee has learned that two regattas have been held with scientifically appropriate, specific, state-law-determined requirements posted in the NOR regarding COVID-19 mitigation or prevention. That’s all good, however, we learned that some individuals were non-compliant with wearing masks and/or distancing on shore. We believe this is a) probably illegal, b) inconsiderate, c) a gross violation of the sailing rules, d) unsportsmanlike, and e) disrespectful of organizers who are trying to host an event without unnecessary risk to others.

We are now, again, advising our Thistle family members that we take the pandemic seriously. As a sailing organization we have a responsibility to ensure that Thistle events are as safe as is reasonably possible and conducted within the laws of the land and within the guidance of the host club’s insurance carrier and our TCA insurance carrier.

Sadly, we must now change our “ask for compliance” into a requirement. Going forward, to be a sanctioned Thistle Class event, the following must appear in the NORs and/or SIs:

COVID-19 Policy: (Host Club) has published a Regatta COVID-19 safety plan based on the CDC and state-specific best practices and requirements. All participants and guests are required to read and adhere to the safety plan while participating in regatta events. This includes hand washing, social distancing, use of face coverings, daily temperature screenings, and other guidelines to protect the health and safety of all participants.

To put it plainly, if the NOR or SI says you must wear a mask on shore, then you must wear a mask on shore or stay >6 feet away from everyone not on your team. It is the prevailing rule for sailing events these days. What you do while you are on the boat is your business.

If you feel you cannot comply with these requirements for any reason, and especially if you or your teammate is ill, DO NOT ATTEND THE EVENT.

Individuals who have not been compliant are on notice that this is unacceptable behavior in the Thistle Class.

Beginning 9/19/20, if we have a confirmed report of anyone not in compliance with NOR’s or SI’s regarding COVID-19 protective measures including masks and social distancing, depending on the specific circumstances, we may consider this a “gross violation of rules or unsportsmanlike conduct.” This applies to violations by the skipper as well as the skipper along with any crew in violation. Such individuals will then be considered suspended and ineligible to register and compete in any TCA chevron events until October 1, 2021.

The authority for such action derives from our Constitution:

TCA Constitution
“Article XII. 2. Executive Committee: ….The Executive Committee shall ….suspend members guilty of gross violation of rules or unsportsmanlike conduct for a period not exceeding its term of office, …..”