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Bill Green

Proposed Changes to the Class Rules in 2016

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We have received notice that the A Class rule is being updated and we ask that all owners review the proposed rule changes and comment accordingly. There is a very short time frame to respond to IRSA so we need to seek your views.

Please click on IRSA 2016 International Class Rules to view the documents.

Please send your responses to stollery17@sky.com

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The following are a few of my personal views on these new proposals. There are a lot more items in this new draft that I have not covered. There is still time for those interested to comment both on the forum and/or directly to myself at stollery17@sky.com , because the MYA has negotiated an extended deadline from IRSA up until the end of the year, 31st December. Your comments and opinions will be very welcome.

Measured area marked on sails

I cannot see the point of this, especially on small sails, which are obviously smaller than the measured rig. Surely, a measurer/equipment inspector would prefer to use a tape measure and check the foot/luff perpendicular measurements of each sail and compare this with the certificate. This would be a simple comparison, takes little time and will give a good indication that the small sail is within the B dimension. In many ways the removal of the boom limit mark is a retrograde step, because that was easy to check.

Minimum mainsail luff lengths at events

A very important consideration when making new rules for the future is always to understand where you have come from. I have been designing and building A boats for over 50 years and in that time there have been great changes. In the 1960’s the wooden boats were heavy displacement and were not very exciting performers off the wind.

During that following decade there was a revolution, with lighter GRP boats, bulb keels and displacement penalties making the concept viable by using smaller sail areas. With the extra marginal planing ability A boats became greater fun to sail as well as being easier to handle.

The minimum mainsail luff length restriction is pointless. Making a class rule to affect the race officer’s decision about whether to sail won’t make any difference to the difficult decision about whether to abandon an event or not. The IOM ranking event at West Kirby has been mentioned in this context, but the race officer, Chris Harris’s view was that this consideration was 'immaterial' because the problem was unsafe launching, with competitors falling over on the wobbly pontoons and the safety of the rescue boat crew etc.

In vane racing, where spinnakers are used all the time off the wind the race officer’s decision to abandon will have absolutely nothing to do with the mainsail luff length, but more to do with whether the boats can be caught at the leeward end without excessive danger to the competitors, who would be jumping in to prevent damage to the boats on the concrete.

Good in light airs maybe, but the lighter boat struggles at the top end of its biggest rig and to windward as the wind increases against more powerful boats, who then have the advantage. Allowing the freedom to choose the right rig to suit the conditions is essential for development to continue naturally without the imposition of pointless restrictions, as well as, of course, to allow a great deal of fun racing in strong winds.

Some of the small rigs that I have designed for my A boat designs are in the order of 1220 mm, which is a lot lower than the suggested limit. Whilst my designs were revolutionary lightweight when they came out, they are now considered on the heavy side. Nowadays there are many more exciting lightweight designs and so there will be a need for even smaller rigs.

Apart from being not a good idea for future development of the class, this rule is pointless not only because of safety factors being the prime consideration for abandoning an event, but because luff length does not control the size of the sail.

Multiple certificates

I have no knowledge or experience of this deliberate ignoring of the rules. I cannot see why perpetrators cannot be brought to heal and the habit stamped out. IRSA should be taking a firm stand against DNMs, their clubs, official measurers and registrars where this rule breaking is happening and they should not be trying to promote it. Drugtaking is difficult to police, but that does not mean we should legalise it!

The RRS starts with basic principle rules, “Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce.” Rules in this sense include class rules along with all the other rules that affect the racing, so IRSA have all the ammunition they need to tackle the offending parties.

I don’t think that this rule would be good for the class, adding fuel to the criticism of those outside the class that it is expensive. It is true that it is expensive, but it would be better if all the total investment in the class was put to more boats and therefore more competitors, rather than fewer over-equipped boats with fewer people taking part. This proposed rule will encourage more rigs, whereas if you stick to the idea of a single certificate we limit the number of rigs and increase the chances of people wanting to invest in and sail an A boat.

Having multiple certificates will be an administrative nightmare, with more work for measurers, registrars, race committees and the MYA web entry facilitator. All of these people give their time working for nothing and they should not be asked to do any more work than is necessary. As the A boat is difficult and time-consuming to measure I can see that having to measure a boat twice in different scenarios would be a really hard job and even more time-consuming per certificate than our current rule.

Roger Stollery 2015-12-19

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Totally agree with Roger regarding the luff lengths. I have in my possession several A class boats covering the the extremes of displacement and limiting the rig could start to affect how we design boats in the future. In 20 years of A boat sailing I have not put my boat on the water on two occasions due to the conditions in my bumble option were too dangerous not to either me or the boat but more importantly to someone else if I needed help in launching or retrieving. A minimum luff would not have made a difference in either situation.

A heavy boat of 16Kg will be able to keep a larger sail (therefore quite possibly a longer luff) than a 12Kg boat in the same wind. Therefore me with a 12Kg boat will not be able to sail when the wind picks up, or everyone has to stop sailing just because one boat can't sail. If the others were allowed to keep sailing and I wasn't that would be gross unfair and therefore would start to limit the design of A class boats - why sail a lightweight design if there is a danger you will be stopped from sailing. Even though the lightweight boat with its small rig would be safer to handle in and out of the water than the heavier boats.

Sail area marked on each sail. Pointless, we have the measurement bands on the mast, booms and deck. If the sails are inside these, then at first glance everything should be OK. If you want to get finer then you have to measure the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 widths, having a total area does nothing. What might be useful is to have the 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 measurements printed on the sail at the approx position, but you've still got to get your tape measure out to check them. You still need the certificate with you when check measuring the boat an an event.

We may use different combinations of sails to make our rig for specific conditions, such as sailing No1 Jib with No2 Main. Both have to be within the rig measurement marks and the quarter widths have to be within the largest sail.

Multiple certificates could be useful for a boat that can be dual rated as a Vane and Radio boat. The radio may have a lead ballast of 11Kg and a waterline of 1250mm, but then swapping to a heavier ballast of 13Kg and a waterline of 1280mm does make it possible to go sailing in two events without the added expense of two hulls. Having just been involved in the designing of an A class boat. this principle was one we were considering. Although due to the wish to optimise both hulls, we have gone down the more expensive route of producing two complete boats.

I agree a boat should not hold two certificates as a radio boat or 2 as a vane boat this would be crazy for the race officials.


A boat skipper and measurer.

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