You are a farmer that has an incredibly small hole in your fence pointed out to you. The hole is in an area that has caused no bother or problem for 30+ years by being largely unvisited, with your fence continuing to do its job in protecting your livestock.
Your solution is to remove the fence as a favoured option?
Would this not cause more problems than a small repair to the fence?
Surely the first priority of any governing body is to protect any class from change, more so change that is entirely unnecessary with an outcome more likely to increase cost and disenfranchise current owners and supporters. Sadly such changes are becoming all too common with those that control and steer our classes.
There is a simple solution if common sense is applied to any problem. In this instance, a simple panel weight/thickness differential tolerance limit on the body of sail construction could be added as an amendment to existing class rules. This means nothing changes and we move on collectively, continuing to follow the class rules as we have done for so long.
Removing current restrictions on battens and placement will alter sail construction on sail plans loaded with high point areas on the leech. Arguing that this could have happened to date in hypothesis is just nonsense. It hasn’t so let’s deal with reality! Suggesting a crossover from the 10R class is relative is not quite correct given the sail plan restriction and platform over a free for all in 10s where load points are minimised through sail design.
Nothing hurts open classes more than needless constant rule change. Such changes are seldom geared to make our classes cheaper, more accessible or easier to transport. It would make a pleasant change if the time spent looking to make changes was used in a positive way that protected and helped our classes. It can be done if you try...
This discussion from the IRSA is about battens and not, strictly speaking, sail thickness. Not to disagree with John's engineering analysis it is worth pointing out that the term "soft sail" is defined in the ERS issued by World Sailing as:-
A sail where the body of the sail is capable of being folded flat in any direction without damaging any ply other than by creasing.
The discussion is laid out on the M Class website so suffice it to say that there appear to be 3 options available with regard to the current batten rules for M and A class yachts.
1) Do nothing and see what happens, but this could lead to further requests for interpretation and/or protests at a major event.
2) Change the rule somehow to prevent "soft sail" material being used as a batten and bypassing the rules. A potential minefield, especially for measurers.
3) Take away the rule altogether
This discussion does not apply to the 10R class as they have no batten restrictions, and where no abnormal sails have appeared as a result.
There has been some helpful comments made during this post and I hope skippers have taken the bits of information which will work for them. I thank all those who have published their thoughts.
Generally, if you have a competitive IOM and choose to refurbish the rigs, this will usually save money and keep you competitive for the predicted future. A skipper racing their usual IOM, with rigs in good condition will always be a tricky opponent.
That said, a new and well built IOM may have the increased performance the skipper is looking for, yet some time may have to be spent sailing and getting used to the boat before the benefits are realised. There is no doubt sailing a new IOM design, provides skippers with a degree of confidence when launching their boats on the water.