Raceboat International was aware of this decision by the IPRC a few days ago but the club placed an embargo on their plans until today. Where does this leave the RYA as only Thundercats, BPRC and P1 Superstock and Guernsey Powerboat Club remain the only clubs still organising races under the RYA banner, and even one of them are contemplating jumping ship.
The Board and Committee of the International Powerboat Race Club wish to make public that following an extraordinary general meeting of the club the decision was unanimously made that the IPRC are to withdraw from affiliation with the RYA and thereby the UIM.
Our withdrawal will commence effective 1st September 2017.
The members of the IPRC acknowledge the depth of experience and knowledge within the RYA and UIM and the good people who work there. However we currently feel that unless there are radical reforms in the way both organisations are run and their overriding objectives are changed neither body is capable of taking powerboat racing forward. In our opinion the governing bodies should work for the good of racing. They should help and promote each and every club, racer and event with unstinting support. It is apparent that the governing bodies are destined to fail if they continue to neglect the grassroots of the sport and act solely as a tax collection authority. The view of our membership can be best stated by quoting an American Revolutionary, James Otis, who said in 1760 that ‘Taxation without representation is tyranny”.
We do not blame the individual administrators or staff. The problems are institutional not personal.
It is our belief that without these issues being addressed as a matter of urgency a new national and international governing body is required. Until and unless this new body is created we will operate independently.
ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE MEMBERS OF THE IPRC
OUR REASONS FOR LEAVING THE RYA & UIM
In detail the fundamental reasons for withdrawing from RYA/UIM jurisdiction are as follows:
Fees for licences, calendar fees and club membership have increased and our members feel that they do not provide good value.
Marathon and offshore licences are expensive to purchase and training options are extremely limited. The governing bodies must immediately invest in developing new training centres for offshore and circuit racing. Without a wholesale investment in training facilities there is almost no opportunity for new teams to enter and race competitively.
International and Internal Calendar fees and segregation of International and National and Club events limits the options for clubs to expand their entries. In addition the failure of Skaggerak and Guernsey to attract sufficient entries is indicative of the overcomplicated and expensive strategy pursued by the UIM. We believe that the UIM in particular should be proactive in creating easy methods of communication between the clubs and promoters to assist in developing a sensible calendar that caters for the needs of racers and clubs and not simply the administrators in Monaco. For our part there was minimal assistance or input from the UIM at any stage. We therefore fail to see what value the calendar or membership / affiliation fee provided.
4. Restriction on licences and subsequent limits of entries.
The restraints and sanctions on existing racers to enter sanctioned and non-RYA races has had a material impact on the number of entries in every class and on trained officials able to assist at events. We believe this is unduly draconian and is actually illegal under UK and European legislation. In effect this decision allows the RYA and UIM to act as a Monopoly. The UIM is the governing body for events but has no statutory rights to dictate the actions of independent people. By repressing competition these rules are counter productive and damage the sport as a whole. This is the antithesis of what a governing body should do. Our view is that it is immaterial if racers enter a non sanctioned race provided that they still comply with the regulations in place for UIM / RYA sanctioned events. There is no reasons, other than to punish competitors and to maintain a monopoly, for people wishing to enter into other club events if they wish. It is only through this consistent punishment of competitors that the UIM / RYA maintains any semblance of authority. By forcing competitors to decide between UIM / RYA sanctioned events and non-sanctioned events there has been a dramatic decline in entries for many races under the UIM / RYA umbrella and it is the view of the IPRC that this is a destructive and repressive policy that should be immediately revoked. Once again we cite the examples of low or no entries to Cowes Pool Cowes, Falmouth, Guernsey Worlds, Skagerrak. These are the key races in the European schedule and the decision has destroyed or damaged all of them.
The RYA no longer provides insurance cover and yet positions itself so that it has the right to demand multiple documents and proof of cover. The RYA and UIM position is that it is no longer liable for payments following incidents and the entire onus on safety, insurance and delivery of events is held by the clubs. In effect the RYA has discharged all responsibility for race management. And yet, the RYA & UIM retain the power to stop, change or issue directives to event organisers at will and insists on adherence to templates, standardised documents, PB1 rules and so on. This is an area that should be of immense concern to the RYA. It is simply not possible to be judge and jury and still pretend to be independent and not involved. Legally and operationally this is problematic and could result in insurance cover being withheld from organisers until it is clear who is responsible and where the liability lies or in a worse case scenario insurers could fail to pay out if an incident occurred. Whilst this has yet to be tested in court it is our belief that in the event of an incident or accident that results in a claim the insurance company would be able to pass the burden of responsibility to the RYA or UIM if it so desired because the RYA and UIM has a material impact on how events are run. Therefore despite holding independent insurance at each event which is specifically designed to protect the club, its members and racers any policy is at risk from the RYA’s position. It is therefore in the best interest of the competitors, club and RYA / UIM if a clear line of responsibility exists. The RYA / UIM cannot hold the power to control when and where races are held and yet hold that it has none of the responsibility. We believe that it is only because of tradition that the current muddled situation has been allowed to continue. For our part, until the RYA / UIM changes their position we believe that this lack of clarity is dangerous to all parties and is sufficient reason to withdraw from affiliation on its own.
6. Lack of assistance in establishing new events or supporting established ones.
The IPRC was established to help grow the sport and work with other clubs to develop new events. Following the restrictions outlined in point 1 we have struggled to encourage qualified entrants in offshore racing to enter. In addition we have watched with sadness the demise of events in Norway and Guernsey and the struggle for entries evidenced at our own race and Cowes Poole Cowes and the way that the entire focus and blame for these failures has been placed at the door of the event organisers. In our opinion this is a material failure on behalf of both the RYA and UIM and is not the fault of the organisers. The UIM and RYA are well funded organisations that are capable of presenting and supporting major events and yet they both fail to support the clubs, grassroots and core of powerboat racing – especially offshore. This is an entirely corporate policy and in no way reflects the work of the officials associated with these organisations. Unless and until both bodies recognise that their actions and utter lack of investment in infrastructure, marketing and training for new competitors, officials and clubs is addressed the result will inevitably be the death of the sport as a whole. As a new club we had hoped that the UIM would support us by taking initiatives that would help to create a spirit of adventure and cooperation. This would have been a simple matter to achieve with their resources. For example the UIM could have delegated a representative to advise the new new club on marketing, race rules, scrutineering or any of the other multiple areas where there is expertise. However we have had no offers from any UIM representative at any stage. They could equally have waived the calendar fees in the first year or even provided a grant to assist in the delivery of the event. Instead the IPRC simply paid a fee to be included in the calendar in Britain and Internationally and we were then left to fend for ourselves. For a world governing body which is supposed to promote the sport this is extremely poor and has impacted directly on our decision to leave. It is however indicative of the organisations “top down” autocratic regime. Clubs, racers and officials need support both in resources and training. This should be provide by the RYA and UIM as a part of membership. It is simply not good enough to continue to rely on goodwill and an amateur “can do” attitude to progress. Where are the manuals to held start new clubs? Where are the training courses for new officials? Who is eligible to contribute to the UIM / RYA decision making processes? None of these are explained in advance and everything to do with organising a race is assumed to happen by magic. Gala dinners in Monaco are not going to grow a sport that is already struggling to attract new competitors. It is simply not good enough. This form of governance would not be accepted anywhere else in any other sport. Of all the issues that our members have raised the total lack of interest from the UIM / RYA in assisting us has been the most contentious.
7. Competitive restrictions on clubs and promoters
There are absolutely no incentives in place for new entries to the sport either as competitors or clubs. In fact it is the reverse. We must all pay to play, regardless of the benefits to the sport as a whole. No wonder the UIM struggles to recruit promoters. The business model they are adopting relies on the largesse of wealthy individuals rather than coherent business practise. It makes no sense to expect people to pay substantial amounts to the UIM when they money could be better spent developing a sustainable independent entity outside of their jurisdiction.
8. Lack of development pathways
It is clear that the UIM and RYA are not planning any development initiatives either as a governing body or through the clubs with the exception of the Propstars project which has gained zero traction in the UK.
The pathway to competition is opaque, expensive and populated by outdated and restrictive regulations and rules that hinder adoption of modern technology and engaging young people.
In addition a series of contradictory bulletins and regulation changes have rendered some of the existing offshore fleet ineligible and others have had to invest large sums in upgrades that are for the most part unnecessary. We refer you to the continued correspondence and requests for clarification between racers and the UIM committees.
In comparison to other sports where there is almost always a clear route to entry and stages of development in offshore powerboat racing there are none. In the case of powerboat racing the GT15 and GT30 series are good starting points for circuit racing but there is no equivalent in offshore and we have seen no evidence of any plans to implement one. The logical conclusion is that once again the clubs are left to find their own solutions. Inevitably if a solution is found it will then be absorbed by the UIM/ RYA monopoly and regulations will be imposed without reference to the reality of delivery, investment or development by the club or promoter.
The IPRC have plans to develop new formats to make power boating easier to enter and without a coherent policy from the UIM / RYA it would be counter productive to invest our own resources for the benefit of bodies with no interest in making a contribution themselves.
9. The governing bodies should resist the temptation to change the regulations unless absolutely necessary and above all the technical and race committees should look in detail at simplifying the regulations to create safe, comprehensible and accessible racing.
We would like to express the views of ordinary members who have enthusiastically joined the IPRC, both racers and non-racers alike. These are the people who could take the sport forward and they are representative of many racers, fans and followers of the sport.
In the view of all new members the governing bodies lack of support added to the fees, complexity of classification, regulation and arbitrary rule changes are impenetrable to anyone not already involved in the sport.
These problems, whilst sometimes relevant to existing competitors, are meaningless to new entrants, fans, media and other people with a passing interest in the sport. This complexity confuses new racers, investors, media spectators and fans and prevents a clear message being delivered. Unless it is addressed powerboat racing will never achieve mass participation or media coverage like other motorsports.
If initiatives like the IPRC are to be encouraged the RYA and UIM should reconsider their own areas of responsibility, concern and engagement. We believe that after 2 years of membership we have arrived at these conclusions honestly and with the best interests of the sport in mind.
Currently we believe that neither of these organisations are operating for the good of the sport as a whole, they are not fit for purpose and they are acting for the most part in their own self interest and not for the good of the sport.
Unless there be radical internal reform undertaken and new initiatives implemented we will continue to remain outside of the jurisdiction of the UIM and RYA. ON BEHALF OF THE INTERNATIONAL POWERBOAT RACE CLUB – PORTSMOUTH ENGLAND AUGUST 20th 2017