About the Case


All male Sail Melbourne 2014 International Jury and Race Officers


Stephanie was disqualified from the Sailing World Cup 2014 for violation of the Olympic Gender requirements by competing in a Men's event (49er skiff). Stephanie was unable to compete in the Women's class as she was competing with a male crew (Paul Coady).

The Federal Circuit Court of Australia decided against Stephanie. The decision allows enforced segregation, the most primitive form of discrimination, with or without an exemption. According to Judge Patrizia Mercuri's decision, organisations can segregate anyone on the basis of their sex, sexual orierntation or gender identity. The decision was based substantially  upon a fabricated statement of facts from a retaliatory hearing conducted after Stephanie was deleted from the regatta without either Paul or Stephanie in attendance.

The Chief Judge William Alstergren intervened in the decision. We later found out that Alstergren was also Vice President of the Victorian Olympic Council and Executive Board Member of the Australian Olympic Committee in 2017 and 2018 when the case was with the court   (see the decision page for more details).

In 2015 the IOC clarified their Olympic Gender guidelines and stated women can compete unrestricted. The World Sailing 49er Class Association also recently  changed their rules to allow women to compete unrestricted. Despite Stephanie being compliant with all World Sailing and IOC rules, World Sailing and the IOC state she is in violation of the Olympic gender rules. They refuse to provide any gender rules and simply refer to a list of the Olympic events in the regulations.

In retaliation for entering the 2020 World Championships, Australian Sailing attempted to serve a Federal Circuit Court writ on Stephanie at the Coady residence to sue for “indemnity costs”. These are costs above court awarded costs designed to punish claimants. The WS Jury refused to clarify whether they would issue gross misconduct charges against Stephanie if she attended the regatta. Stephanie was forced to withdraw her entry to the regatta.

Stephanie is now unable to sail her boat anywhere without fear of retaliatory action. 

A complaint has been lodged to Attorney-General Christian Porter with a request that Chief Judge William Alstergren, John Coates and others be referred to the Federal Police for investigation into conspiracy to defeat justice.     

The Coady family are now preparing to take their case against World Sailing and the IOC to the UK Supreme Court.  



The Coady family were members of Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) in Melbourne, Australia. Atanosios Papantonio was the Boating Manager of SYC. He had previously made comments that Stephanie Coady should not be sailing a 49er. One week prior to the Sailing World Cup - Sail Melbourne 2014, he verbally abused Stephanie's father Paul Coady, while preparing Stephanie's boat and ordered her boat removed from SYC permanently. Atanosios was also the Professional Race Officer (PRO) for SWC Sail Melbourne 2014. Stephanie had previously completed an SYC form for boat storage and had been notified of approval for storage that year. She was training along with other Sail Melbourne competitors and, no other competitor was told to remove their boat.

Stephanie entered the SWC Sail Melbourne 2014 in the Olympic Class 49er. She completed all required paperwork and presented at registration and measuring as helm of the boat. Stephanie was known well by the PRO, the 49er IRO and 49er race officials. It was known that Stephanie had been training in the 49er for the SWC 2014. World Sailing also published on their website, sailing.org, an article on the event highlighting Stephanie competing against the men as an example of the diversity of the competitors.

Stephanie sailed the first day of racing and retired early due to a damaged spinnaker pole. Before the second day racing she and Paul were approached by the PRO (Atanosios) and told they were in violation of the gender rules in the Notice of Race (NOR). Paul explained that this was in violation of discrimination law. The PRO subsequently verbally abused Paul and Stephanie. The PRO was later joined by Bill Bell, a member of the International Jury (IJ). Paul requested that a protest be lodged in accordance with the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) before any action was taken. This was agreed by the PRO. Paul also explained they would not sail if a protest was lodged. An email was immediately sent to the event organisers asserting Stephanie's rights under discrimination law.

After waiting for 2 hours, no protest was lodged, so Stephanie sailed to the race area. She was followed by members of the IJ in a boat. Stephanie was verbally abused by other competitors with foul language and yelled at to get of the course. The IJ were laughing at the abuse directed at Stephanie. Stephanie was 16 years old at the time.

Upon returning from the days racing Paul was informed by race officials that Stephanie had been disqualified from the regatta. Paul complained to the Vice President of Yachting Victoria who told Paul to complain to the Director of Sail Melbourne, Mark Turnbull.

Paul met with Mark Turnbull, who suggested Stephanie continue to sail but without earning ISAF/World Sailing points. Paul agreed on the condition that results be recorded to ensure points could be earned in the event the decision to disqualify was unlawful. Mark agreed and stated he would just need to get approval from the IJ and Yachting Victoria.

The PRO and IJ organised a meeting that night with representatives from Yachting Victoria and Sandringham Yacht Club and race officials. Stephanie and Paul were not invited. Mark Turnbull was also not invited. They decided to lodge a retrospective protest and to also charge Stephanie with gross misconduct for sailing in the regatta as a female helm.

Paul was contacted that night by Mark Turnbull and told that a meeting had been convened with the PRO, IJ, YV and SYC and, that all parties were in agreement and confident the matter would be resolved. Paul was also informed that a protest had been lodged as he had requested and that he was required to attend a meeting that night and to come alone. The protest was a day past the time limit (rule 61.3) and after action had already been taken (rule 63.1).  Paul was told he would be very happy with the outcome.   Paul was subsequently ambushed, in a blatant kangaroo court. He was not allowed to put his case forward, not allowed to ask questions and not allowed to have witnesses. Stephanie was disqualified from the regatta despite already being deleted from the regatta. When asked why nothing Paul had to say was taken into consideration the Jury Chairman Douglas Sloan said, "no we didn't because anything you say is just your opinion, it is not a fact".

Sloan then stated he was going to consuct a gross misconduct hearing for sailing the regatrta. Paul showed his disgust and left the meeting. Sloan ran after Paul into the car park area and hit him in the chest knocking Paul off his feet. On the ground was a letter charging Stephanie with gross misconduct. Paul followed Sloan back into the building and an argument erupted. Paul asked whether they would be afforded procedural fairness, Sloan replied "No, we're in charge here not you!". The meeting was conducterd without Paul or Stephanie in attendance. The jury used the opportunity to fabricate evidence against Paul of gross misconduct prior to Stephanie being disqualified.           

The IJ decided that by competing in a men's event with a female helm, he committed a gross misconduct and brought the sport into disrepute. They also decided that the assertion of legal rights was a violation of rule 3 ("not to resort to any court of law or tribunal") of the RRS. Stephanie's boat was disqualified from the entire event again.

Paul requested of SYC that Stephanie be allowed to sail her 49er free of discrimination in club sailing and be allowed to keep her boat at the club, as agreed. At the time approximately 100 boats were kept at the yard. All requests were denied and the Coady family were forced to cancel their membership.

Stephanie and Paul started federal legal action early 2015. World Sailing threatened that if Stephanie's case were to proceed they would cease Olympic class sailing in Australia. The Coadys stated their intention, if the threat was executed, to pursue World Sailing for the exclusion of women from the 49er class at SWC Sail Weymouth and Portland UK under similar provisions in UK legislation for discrimination in the supply of services. World Sailing stated by email that Stephanie was excluded from the 49er class at SWC Weymouth and Portland 2015 on the basis of her gender.

At all times the Coady family have ensured that the best of legal advice and representation has been sought. Very thorough legal analysis has been undertaken before any claims have been made. The Coady family have been advised and represented by specialist discrimination lawyers including Fran O'Brien QC, James McDougall and Chris Ronalds SC (who wrote the Sex Discrimination Act). Paul also holds a master's degree in commercial law.

Yachting Victoria sought no legal advice before disqualifying Stephanie in response to the formal complaint of discrimination.



49er Skiff

The 49er skiff is a high performance two-handed (two person) sailing boat designed for crews weighing around 150 kgs. The 49er was selected as the men’s high performance two-handed boat for the 2000 Olympics. As a result of Olympic selection, the 49er also became a World Sailing (formerly International Sailing Federation) class with a World Championship regatta held every year. A series of Sailing World Cup regattas are also held in a number of Countries. The Sail Melbourne regatta is one of the Sailing World Cup regattas.
The two roles of the competitors on the boat are called the helm (skipper) and the crew. The crew is responsible for hoisting and lowering the spinnaker, controlling the spinnaker sheets (ropes), and balancing the boat. Due to the large sail area and spinnaker size, strength and stamina of the crew is important. The helm is responsible for steering of the boat. Strength and stamina of the helm is not a particular advantage. This has been established in other sports that involve steering for example harness racing, horse racing, monster truck racing, rally car driving etc where women compete with the men.
Stephanie Coady is the helm of a 49er. She sails with male crew due to no female crews being available. This is a situation caused by World Sailing for allowing men to compete in the women's 49er FX class at the National and Oceania level. They entered into the Sail Melbourne regatta in December 2014 and were disqualified after the second day of sailing due to breach of the Olympic gender requirements for the men’s 49er class.
Mixed (male and female) crews have in the past competed in the Sailing World Cup regattas and the World Championship. One mixed crew was ranked 19 on the World rankings. Mixed crews have always been female helm and male crew.
The FX is a variation of the 49er designed for female crews around 120kgs. It is the same boat with a shorter mast and smaller sail area.

In 2012 a replacement was sought for the Olympic Women's Elliott 6m Match Racing class. The FX was selected as the women’s two-handed skiff for the 2016 Olympic Games replacing women’s match racing (http://www.sailing.org/news/40245.php#sailing_slider_footer_01). The FX World Sailing class was included in the World Championships and the Sailing World Cup regattas.
No formal announcement or press release has ever been made by World Sailing detailing the exclusion of mixed crews from competing in the men’s 49er class. The World Sailing 49er class rules (http://www.sailing.org/classesandequipment/20102.php) do not exclude mixed crews: “The crew shall consist of two persons.”


The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 gives effect to Australia's obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (UNCEDAW) and certain aspects of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 156.

This case although made under provisions in the same legislation, has two separate components: a civil complaint of sex discrimination and, a criminal complaint of victimisation after the assertion of human rights.

Section 22(1) of the SDA provides:

Yachting Victoria (YV) was the organising authority for SWC Sail Melbourne and responsible for the race officers and the International Jury. YV entered into contract with Stephanie to provide services for her to participate in the Sailing World Cup – Sail Melbourne in the 49er Men’s class. YV subsequently on the advice of the International Jury repudiated the contract without grounds, based on her gender.

Section 5(2) of the SDA details indirect discrimination where:

the discriminator imposes, or proposes to impose, a condition, requirement or practice that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons of the same sex as the aggrieved person.

The gender based condition for eligibility to compete in the 49er class was impossible for Stephanie to comply with and, served no reasonable purpose for ensuring competition or served any other reasonable purpose. Stephanie had sought assistance from YV and the International 49er Association and was still unable to find a female crew. In contrast male crews are in abundance.


It is a strategy for discriminators to indirectly attack the victim by targeting others with a relationship with the victim. By doing this the discriminator is able to inflict damage on the victim while at the same time deny discriminating against the victim. Both the SDA and the UNCEDAW have provisions, for both the aggrieved person and third parties, for victimisation after asserting human rights.

Section 94(2) of the SDA sets out the criminal victimisation provisions which include if the Respondent/s subjects or threatens to subject another person to any detriment on the ground that the other person:

has reasonably asserted, or proposes to assert, any rights of the person or the rights of any other person under this Act or the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.”

The assertion of rights under discrimination law was made both verbally and in writing before disqualification action was taken. So that the allegation could not be levelled against them in the future of discriminating against Stephanie directly, a meeting convened with the PRO, the IJ, SYC and YV, decided to target Paul Coady with a kangaroo court and disciplinary action based upon the gender of Stephanie. Subsequent victimisation consisted of a further 4 blatant kangaroo courts and a 12 month ban recently executed. The kangaroo courts were conducted without any remote consideration for natural justice and were based upon fabricated evidence, lies and exaggerations. More information is detailed in "the facts" section of this site.


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