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ACO Musto Skiff World Championships 2012 - Weymouth GBR.

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Some thoughts about the 2012 Worlds in Weymouth by the Jury Chairman.

I think I can speak for the whole jury to say that we really enjoyed the worlds and the friendliness of the class.

Following some personal comments about what I observed.

First I really liked the fairness of the competition with everybody who brakes a rule doing his turn.
Given the size of the fleet I expected a lot more problems - and screaming - at the first windward mark, but obviously the class consists of experienced sailors who know the benefits of fast sailing versus boat to boat incidents.

There are not many classes were a fleet of 100+ boats in one start will not result in major problems at the start and the first windward mark.

About Rule 42:
On the first days when the wind was very light and trapezing wasn't possible, we observed some clear breaches in rocking upwind.

Sailors were hooked on and went inward until the boat heeled with the leeward rack nearly in the water and then righted it up again. Some repeated that for most of the beat.

These actions clearly gave the sailors who did it an advantage.

As Appendix P did not apply, the only thing we could have done, would have been to protest, which then would have ended in a disqualification.

As the general policy of the jury is to not interfere or protest as long as other competitors are aware of the infringement and can protest, we decided to not protest sailors rocking upwind, as it also would have very likely changed the mood of the event if competitors get protested and probably disqualified for rocking in the evening of the first day.

Also despite the clear advantage some competitors gained by rocking, we did not hear any other competitor complain.

We did not observe any other infringements, but I can imagine that in just trapezing conditions - maybe about 8 knots - some sailors would body pump out of the start to gain some extra speed and height, similar to what is common in the 470 but also can be seen in the 29er and 49er in some conditions.

As soon as there is any decent wind, I don't think the class got any problem with Rule 42.

Apart from hoping to not sail in these light conditions, I would suggest that Appendix P should apply at future events, so that the jury can give a yellow flag if they see infringements like that.

Generally the yellow flag system has a very positive effect in light wind, as a given penalty takes the advantage gained away and therefore reduces the incentive to break Rule 42 on purpose.

Additionally I would suggest to add a class rule allowing the race committee to use Flag O and R to switch most parts of Rule 42 on and off.

The easiest class rule would probably be the one of the 470:

"When the average wind speed is clearly over 8 knots across the course the race committee may signal in accordance with RRS Appendix P5 that pumping, rocking and ooching are permitted. This changes rules RRS 42.2(a), RRS 42.2(b), RRS 42.2(c)."

Where the Musto Performance Skiff probably even can stick with the 8 knots. In this version, most limitations (apart from sculling, paddling etc.) are lifted from the preparatory signal. So pumping, ooching and rocking would not be limited. As there is hardly any advantage of any of these techniques in the MPS in some wind, there is no real reason to keep the standard limitations in place.

Many other classes only let the change take effect after the start, but I can not see a real reason why it should not apply before the start.

With Appendix P applying and the class rule change, the class would reduce the number of people taking advantage in light wind, while the competitors don't have to worry about the jury in decent conditions.

The jury was approached after the sailors forum one night about the problem of sailors on the run with the gennaker up not being able to see and therefore avoid boats on the upwind leg.

Obviously a major rule change to do anything about it would be needed, it probably would need an Appendix to the Racing Rules for a permanent change.

But in limited circumstances you might be authorized by ISAF to change the Rules for an event (see Rule 86.2).

The main hurdle might be to figure out what the class really want to change, e.g. is it just windward/leeward or generally add a rule with upwind/downwind right of way?

The goal would be to find a solution with minimal change to any other rules, as you also sometimes race with other classes where the change would not apply and new sailors in the class obviously don't want to learn a totally different rule set.

I know that other classes have similar problems, if not with seeing a boat approaching under the gennaker then with the windward boat to be unable to luff to avoid without capsizing.

I guess some starting points for a rule would be:

Is it only about the boat with gennaker not seeing the boat approaching upwind?

If that is the case, is it on both tacks, e.g. is a port tack reaching boat unable to see a starboard tack boat upwind? - I suspect the reaching boat can see the other on another tack, as they are nearly on a head-on course.

If it is only about windward/leeward, is it only about reaching versus upwind, or also if both boats are reaching and the leeward one is sailing higher?

I personally would think that it is mainly about rule 11 - windward/leeward while overlapped.

If both boats are upwind, you probably want to stick with the 'normal' rule that windward has to keep clear, as otherwise you would change the game at the start and upwind considerably.

Apart from the gennaker, what is the angle to the true wind where it is safer to bear off than head up? That would probably be the course were you want to switch the rules.
So changing Rule 11 to something like:

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, before the start or if both boats are sailing less than ninety degrees from the true wind, a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.

If one of them after the start sails more than ninety degrees from the true wind, the leeward boat shall keep clear of the windward one.

Or you could try to limit it to legs of the course:

When boats are on the same tack and overlapped, before the start or if both boats are sailing on the same leg of the course were flying a gennaker is not possible a windward boat shall keep clear of a leeward boat.
If one or both of them are on a leg were flying the gennaker is possible, the leeward boat shall keep clear of the windward one.

In both cases you would have to go through a lot of scenarios to see if there are any incidents are possible which you don't want to happen, so a lengthy debate would be needed.

It might also help if you get in contact with other classes, the Tornado and int. 14 might have similar problems and maybe have already thought about a similar rule changes.

After finding a good wording which the class thinks works well, you would have to go through ISAF to get the authorization under Rule 86.2 to try the changed rule and see if it makes any real difference.

As I already mentioned one morning at the sailors briefing in Weymouth, it is important to remember that having right of way does not mean you don't have to keep a lookout, so if after a rule change a -then right of way- boat with gennaker hits a boat upwind and did nothing to avoid, it is possible to still get penalized under rule 14.

The excuse 'I have not seen her and didn't look because I had right of way' does never work. On the other hand, even a call can be an action to avoid collision, so under the current rules, a right of way boat upwind should also try to get the attention of a boat coming down with gennaker, shouting out an identification (name, color sailnumber) and 'up' or 'down' might help a lot.

I hope these comments are helpful.

Peter Scheuerl

Add your comments on the forum discussion

Note: Paul Manning is following up with members of the IJ with the view of perhaps running a test (or demonstration event) where rules would be modified to address some of these issues

 

For further information contact;

Rick Perkins: Musto Skiff Class Association
e: rickp@mustoskiff.com t: +44 (0) 7763 133399
w: http://www.mustoskiff.com/

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