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Darin Ballington

2019 Nationals - Your thoughts

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Well, after a long wait the 2019 Nationals is over, two great days with conditions that required almost all of the rigs; it never got to B2 conditions, but that was Ok as I dont have a B2 rig!

I thought the race management was excellent, despite the best efforts of the wind and weather and I thank all of the race team , Birkenhead Club for their efforts and West Kirby SC for making us feel so welcome. Its going to be a great venue for the 2020 Worlds, keep your eyes peeled for more on that....

From my point of view it was great to see the variety of competitors and boats who were there and see that the age of the boat was not a major factor in the fun factor or competitiveness.

If you want to know more about how to get into the class take a look on the Marblehead Class website, there's information and tips on how to find out the next events and the great "pimp my marblehead" series whihc helps you get the most outer of an older design.

Anyone else enjoy themselves?

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Posted (edited)

Darin and All,

I agree that the race team and Birkenhead Club did a fantastic job in running both regattas (10R & M's). I found West Kirby Sailing Club also to be friendly and accommodating when it came to the debriefs and the social event in the evenings.  That aside, over the course of the 4 days many skippers suffered from radio control issues. I am not sure why this was happening, a theory presented to me was because for most of the time we were not in an elevated position, to allow an easy path for the radio signal to travel to your boat. People can take that theory the way they wish. However, should I be lucky enough to qualify for next years Worlds, the radio control issue will be a concern for me and I am open to listen to other peoples thoughts on this.

Did I enjoy myself, of course but my boat , my legs and feet may tell you differently.........lol!!

 

JT

Edited by John Taylor

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Two very well run events by the Birkenhead team  under the organisation of Graham Elliott.

Our race team worked very hard to give us the fairest possible race in  steady winds on the Saturday and shifting winds on the Sunday. A couple of reaching starts were tried and rightly blown up for not being a fair contest showing us that what might be fashion in full size boats doesn’t always translate to our side of the sport.

One point that continues to be of contention is the speed in which the black flag is put in use, sadly another big boat fashion that we have to put up with more and more, with rule 30.1(round the ends) forgotten. Thankfully I believe we only had 2 black flag starts over the weekend due to well set start lines but in my mind that’s two too many without using 30.1 first. 

Could I suggest that our guidelines for good racing going forward on starting procedure be looked at as the penalty on a skipper, far worse the larger the fleet and significant travel and cost to attend, needs to be understood.

My reasons are these:

- we are not sat on our boats and able to judge more closely our distance to above or below. To see this we have to stand more forward of the line.

- in HMS, a BFD (black flag) is an outrageously heavy penalty of maximum fleet points, not just the heat you are in +1. To add to this you are also relegated. All of this just because at often a not so insignificant distance away you were adjudged to have broken the start??? 

- does the penalty fit the crime? It does not. Let’s say for instance we have a start with all boats lined up and a cowboy decides to run the line from above, dropping down and affecting a number of boats through collision. The cowboy is allowed to blissfully sail on, take a couple of turns and complete the course or if he or she caused damage, retire and take a heat +1 score with relegation. More grief caused, yet a lighter punishment.

- what do we want from our racing? Open ended at different levels but in general it’s the opportunity to race a fair race with all competing.  Whether we get one or two full less races in over a weekend is of far less importance than making sure the races we have are consistent and fair to all skippers that pay to enter. It is the competitors race! You only need to look back at the last 2 IOM international events to see which races Black flag starts were used in as those in contention had their worst races and the chancers with little to lose rolled the dice. Races unduly shaped by trigger happy PRO forgetting the race wasn’t about them...

Going forward I think if we remember the above and give skippers every chance by allowing the difficulties they face in getting off the line clearly we get good racing. By all means go to a black flag but not before at least 2 general recalls and a couple of goes with 30.1. After all if we have eagle enough eyes to pick out one BFD boat, then why don’t we have the same clarity to name 2 or 3 over in starts that are more fair without scare?

Again, we only had 2 BFDs over four days of racing so the above could be energy could be better directed elsewhere but They are points worth understanding from any race team I believe. End

PThe full team of helpers did an excellent job in some pretty foul weather at times from the guys in the boat to the ladies that kept our heats up to date and scoring spot on. The WK club were welcoming hosts as always and couldn’t do enough for us.

A few boats struggled with a lack of preparation and sometimes avoidable, sometimes not, collisions putting a few out of races but if we look back a few years I think the number that continued to race in the heavy conditions compared to years past we see a large improvement through better maintenance awareness and better built products across the board.

As for signal loss, this generally happened on days where boats were heeled away from skippers at distance and signals were weak through carbon. Situations we rarely get at other venues but something that those in the radio game need to look at as it seemed more noticeable on newer radio versions.

Thank you Birkenhead and West Kirby

Cheers

Brad

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Sir

       Rules are Rules break them and you are punished, quite simple.The black flag is the RO"s best friend for bringing to account those who try and take advantage [every club has them ] of the situation.  Pack your sandwiches@ flask, arrive at the venue say "hello" and get on with it and most of all "ENJOY " it,  and leave the Rules to those who know best.

                       P S  , Just remembered i won  5 Woodbines  in  1944  aged 9 my only success in  75 yrs  Keep Smiling   Tickover

 

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Posted (edited)

Terry,

No question from me that rules are rules, but like many rules in the game we play they are very open to interpretation or implementation.

From event to event there can be wide and varied thoughts on how to implement the use of 30.1, UFD and BFD. 

 Nor at the event in question, or since 2010 on the one occasion have I landed on the wrong side of a Black Flag ruling. Yes it is a tool that can keep a fleet in check that repeatedly give a race officer no choice in a steady wind with good sighting for all and repeated recalls.

Throw in variables though of extreme winds and wave conditions and an overly long start line to accommodate and I believe some leeway could be offered in such cases rather than bypassing 30.1.

Our PRO and his team were very good in what was essentially a test event for next years Worlds at that same venue with excellent start lines and courses with a steady flow of racing. Well done and thank you to them for that as I have said previous.

But..... as our MYA race officer asked for our thoughts of those present, given the heading of this thread, I offered my own thoughts in that we are sure to avoid slipping into a pattern of events that have been unduly shaped by a race officer attitude that smirks when asked if he or she ‘got one’. I suggest paying skippers are entitled at big events to deserve a little better and it’s not a track I would like to see here.

Our sport has come a long way from the ‘us and them’ mentality of the past with regards to interaction between race officials, umpires and competitors thankfully. Should we continue moving forward or not?

cheers

Brad

Edited by Brad Gibson

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Hi Brad

                      Totally agree on moving forwards and moving with the times etc, but remember some of us "old Wrinkles " have noticed big changes in  attitude and  consideration for others  over the later years. i can remember the days when we had 20-25 members  at the pond, now mention racing on Saturday and we have 6, sign of the times. "I am not anti racing far from it ", last weekend our club hosted the TT DF 65@95 event with over 20 boats in each class and it was a fantastic weekend for all,these Ladies @ Gentlemen [ that is correct ] were a credit  to model sailing .

As a top competitor i can understand your frustrationas regards rules  etc , i agree some should be changed or modified but do it in a proper manner via the proper channels, you might be pleasantly surprised.     Wish you well Brad and every success in the Hobby and my pleasure to  discuss these items with you.

                                        Regards   Tickover  DMSC

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Hi Terry,

I must admit to being a little confused by your reply and reasoning for getting involved on a thread for thoughts on a recent event you did not attend.

But here goes...

You make mention of consideration of others? Well as I have not been a victim of a Black Flag start since 2010 as stated, one could stop and think why I have concerns with their over use? Could it be that I feel that such overuse is unfair on the whole fleet, not least the poor offender that is told to get off the water? Is that the best we can offer a skipper for making a slight error of judgement. Does that add to an enjoyable experience? Was this always the case in the glory days of old Terry? Changes over the sport indeed and not for the better in this instance I believe.

 An MYA forum set up to discuss all things MYA had a post put on it to ask for thoughts (read feedback) on an event some of us attended (over 40 skippers in 4 days of racing). I offered my feedback on a topic I feel strongly about with regards to fairness for all competitors. It has nothing to do with a change in rules, nor does it bare any personal frustrations for me from the event but I suggest it does more so from others over a greater number of events that I have witnessed. It has to to with a level of rule application which can vary from event to event quite widely ranging from the overly loud type official that shouts and corals his or her school children(skippers) with an unwarranted level of arrogance that does little more than ignite problems throughout the fleet, to the mild mannered race team that goes about their business concentrating on what they do best while always remembering why they are there, primarily to put on a good race and send everyone home knowing they enjoyed the experience.  I know which races I prefer to attend or avoid given the changes in attitude that have come over race teams within the sport in bigger races and while we set a very good standard here in officialdom we should be mindful of not slipping into others bad ways.

Terry if you could point me to the proper channels I would be enlightened. If it is elsewhere then can I ask what is the point of this forum? 
Or this only a case of all thoughts welcome so long as you tell us what we want to hear? Is that how we move forward?

 

Cheers

Brad

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Hi Brad

Sorry Brad to me it is an "HOBBY" and i can see from your e/mails  that it is   a totally different ball game for you , that"s fine by me .

the question is do you enjoy it??? i doubt it      Regards   Tickover [ Age Concern Model Club ]

                                            

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Terry,

Sport, Hobby, Interest whatever.......the level differs dependent on each and every person which is also fine by me.

That without knowing or having met me, you wish to question my level of enjoyment of this sport that I have had an active interest in back to my early childhood, i'm afraid says more about you and your thinly veiled agenda either towards myself or the Marblehead class and those within it. 

Good for you 
 

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Seems that we have a misunderstanding here, maybe because we are typing and not talking over a pint.

My interpretation of Brads comment is that the rules are the rules but the implementation and transference from full size to radio sailing need to be understood.

As the MYA RO I see one of my responsibilities to ask for and consider comments from events, many are quick to tell me what is wrong but there are only a few who actually put their comments on paper, and as such I thank Brad for this.

As I said I don't see the start penalties need amending, and in fact it is not our role or position to amend them, but like Brad I have been to events where the  RO uses the starting penalties to "hide" the fact that the start line is wrong. Sometimes this is beyond their control, but occasionally it is due to their lack of understand of why boats are bunching or struggling to slow their boats down in the final seconds before the start. It is also important that everyone understands the current scoring implications of using BFD, something that the race regs team have been discussing for a while.

This is in no way a criticism of the volunteers who allow us to race but a recognition that the start line and the start have a big impact on the racing we do, whether at club or international level.

Fair racing at all levels requires a fair start giving equal opportunity and usually the best way to identify this is how the skippers treat the start, if they bunch at one end, or all end up at one end it will normally indicate that the line needs adjustment. The best lines will allow 95% of the fleet the chance to win, not onw where only 5% can win.

The hardest part of any solution is how we give guidance to the race team volunteers.

One way is to be prescriptive and give a set starting sequence,;2 general recalls, 1, round the ends and then black flag.

The other is to give the race team discretion, unfortunately either way will create problems if the team do not understand the reasons why the skippers are struggling. The answer has to be in some simple training on setting a start line and then identifying the issues and options to creating fair racing. This where I think we need to consider the difference between full size and radio sailing.

I have been to a few international events and I would say that the influence of full size management of starting penalties is better understood by the GBR race teams than some of those I have seen run these international events.

My final point would be that we need to look at the sport as a whole because a lot of what happens at local level comes from observation of the highest level, race management, skipper behaviour, along with current designs are often taken from National Championships and implemented at club level.

None of the above is a criticism of Peter and his team at West Kirby, just observations.

Darin.

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Just to expand Darin if I may in that I didnt feel the setting of the start line to be an overriding factor in the difficulties of time and distance to starting well at WK. Both Peter and Derek set some very good start lines (especially on the tricky Sunday course) and their attention to detail there combined with the RIB crew was very good. But as you say no true fixed method will suit all conditions and it is here that we need to look beyond a' RYA type' manual guideline of 'my start line is perfect' situation and understand there can be many reasons other than line bias as to why  people are breaking the start. Inexperience in waves and a level self preservation on an overly long line that was hard to sight at speed played a big part in the difficulties for all in trying to start in conditions not often experienced by many there so I would suggest this to be an instance of where some added leeway could be used by any race team. Lets make the aim to get everyone racing the course, even if it takes a few more go's for that to happen.

This horse is no longer beating...

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Inexperience in waves and a level self preservation on an overly long line that was hard to sight at speed played a big part in the difficulties for all in trying to start in conditions not often experienced by many there so I would suggest this to be an instance of where some added leeway could be used by any race team. Lets make the aim to get everyone racing the course, even if it takes a few more go's for that to happen.

For me Brad's statement that I've quote above summed up the starts for the Saturday. It was good fun on the Saturday racing in big winds and big waves but it wasn't for the faint hearted. Although having said that from a personal point of view it took me a couple of races to get the hang of racing in such conditions again and trying to always see the bigger picture of the race course as it unfolded. 

Some say that Marblehead's are the pinnacle of radio sailing (that be why I had a smile on my face after Saturday) but given the conditions there was quite a breadth of skipper ability (eyesight, boat control to name but two factors) and as such a little leeway might have saved a few incidents. Personally I'd rather have extra standard goes at starting, giving me the ability to be anywhere on the race course during the final minute and not have the extra disproportional penalty if called over by a black flag. 

Black flag penalty in my eyes is too stiff a penalty compared with - someone catching me on the start line doing a penalty and then catching someone else and doing another turn but still possibly staying up.... 

Damian

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Hi Brad

                     There is no thinly veiled agenda , just an observation, and by your tone it is obvious you cannot take it . So do not  try to change the rules

                  " Abide by them "         "Male Parta MaleDilabuntur"

 

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