UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

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Colin Smith
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Location: Kent, UK

UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Colin Smith » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:18 pm

After conversations since the last Worlds - see "25 knots" thread - the UK has now submitted a proposal that (a) it be class policy to race in winds not exceeding 26 knots average or 30 knots gusting, and (b) we allow a second mainsail at major events to help with this. The proposal has been sent to the member countries for voting. Details are available via the main menu through "Class Association" - "Class Rules" - "2012 Windspeed Proposal"; or direct to http://www.international14.org/index.ph ... &Itemid=40

Colin

joe.bersch
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by joe.bersch » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:07 pm

Within reason, I support taking steps to increase the wind range that we can sail the boats in. I think that there are already some viable alternatives available to having two mainsails, such as reefs, stumped rigs, etc. We are having very good early success with a reef on our newer, stiffer rig. I wonder, however, why we aren't considering allowing two kites at the same time? If I had a choice, I'd be inclined to choose a smaller kite long before I would choose a smaller main.

I think we also need to define average wind speed over how long a period, for example 30 minutes, an hour? Same issue with puffs. Is it one puff over 30 knots in the last hour, 30 minutes or what?

I think the proposal could benefit from some clarity on this.

Joe
H2-B6
US 1184
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joe.bersch
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by joe.bersch » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:09 pm

Sorry-

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Columbia River Gorge
August 11, 2012

Andrew P
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Andrew P » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:46 am

Being old enough to remember the issues with stumped rigs, I would prefer to maintain the full kite size and reef the main. The previous experience with step down rigs is that you get hammered down wind by the full rig boats when the lulls occur.

Joe what has been your experience with the reefed mainsail and full size kite, is it the optimum arrangement, or does the lack of interaction between the kite and the mainsail limit the effectiveness of the kite to a greater degree?

IMO, The sea state is a larger determinant of the ability of the fleet to sail in stronger winds than the absolute wind speed.

joe.bersch
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by joe.bersch » Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:46 pm

Andrew:

I am certainly old enough, but haven't been in the fleet long enough to remember the stumped rig issues to which you refer. On the other hand, it didn't appear that George Nurton struggled too much in Weymouth, even in pretty light air with his rig. Furthermore, I would think anyone who had a small main, stumped rig, reefed main, etc. would struggle similarly against a full rig in the lulls. Just a matter of fact of less sail area, I think.

I have not noticed any issue with the interaction of the full size kite with the reefed main. If anything, my fear in the big breeze is the limited ability to overtrim and effectively depower the kite with the reduced hoist main. To be fair, we have not spent much time with it and have had minimal chance to go boat to boat either updwind or down. How fast the combo is is not known, but if it helps you keep from pitching it in, then I guess you can argue it is a dramatic speed improvement, right?

Completely agree about your observation of wave height (and current) being a big factor. Likewise, I note that sailing the boat in big breeze is not the same as fleet racing in big breeze. It is kind of like free skiing versus skiing slalom gates. Turning when you want is a lot easier.

Joe

Sorta
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Sorta » Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:45 am

Lots of good discussion here (and elsewhere), but I will be voting against this.

It is well conceived, just poorly written and I think aimed at the wrong issue. Wind strengths have nothing to do with class rules IMHO. It is the RC`s responsibility to do this on a `by regatta` basis with safety the first consideration and then in consultation with the fleet, which happens already. We usually manage to make our expectations and requirements well know to race officials before any event. Do we really need to legislate for this?
Surely we can simply and easily have mains cut to allow reefing, which will not affect the measuring process at all. See the great shots of the B6 in this thread. Lets create a movement in the fleet to do this so we can race in Weymouth in September or San Fran / The Gorge any time for that matter. Having raced with a pin top in bigger breeze in Toronto when I ripped my main, it is NO disadvantage up or down wind anyway as all we do is try to depower over 20 knots.
Sorta.
CAN 612

Katie
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Katie » Thu Aug 30, 2012 7:19 am

There was a lot of discussion about this at the UK AGM, before the rule proposal was submitted. A lot of people like the idea of reefing in principle, but the reality is that only two or three boats in the UK have stiff enough masts. Quite a few people have tried reefed/cut down sails since Weymouth and the results are generally horrible (nothing like the nice B6 pics)... So most people would rather buy a new main/recut an old one than buy a new mast!

Personally, I'd rather keep the rules as they are as I think a second main is bound to lead to more expense and more decision making on the shore, and, as Joe said, there's plenty you can do within the current rules even with a bendier mast eg stumping. But the view in the UK was quite strongly in favour of a second main and I'm starting to come round to that point of view... I always thought that practice was a better way to get round the course in breeze than smaller sails, but a lot of our fleet can't sail as often as they'd like to because of work/family etc. If we want to go out in stronger winds at the big events, we need the majority of the fleet to be comfortable getting round the course, not just a few boats, as otherwise the Race Officer won't run the racing. So perhaps a second main is the easiest way to achieve that???

From those who've tried it, it would be interesting to know if the smaller main makes any noticeable difference to boat handling, as well as speed. Seems like boat handling is really the big issue...

PS is it true there's going to be no wind in Toronto? That's the current UK chat...

Hendo
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Hendo » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:08 am

We went out to Toronto for a North American's years ago, and had a great regatta, at the same time of year and we had a few days in the 10 to 12knt. range .and a few 6 knt. races , as well as the last two days of 18 to 20 in Big waves (fun!!), look at Weymouth , we had all that..
Hendo.

Katie
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Katie » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:09 am

Sounds perfect, thank you! No giant mainsails needed then...

Dicko
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Dicko » Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:01 am

I would probably vote in favour of the two sail rule, as most people attending a large regatta would have a few spare mains in their sail locker anyway in case of damage, but against the upper wind limit as in protected waters, wind strengths sailed in can be higher than in the unprotected waters I am accustomed to sailing in. I moved up into 14s as we were getting left behind in the lighter breeze in the Aussie Cherub. I will discuss this with other 14 sailors in my area once the season starts to get a better Idea of pros & cons before I vote though.

Andrew P
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Andrew P » Mon Sep 03, 2012 12:09 am

From those who've tried it, it would be interesting to know if the smaller main makes any noticeable difference to boat handling, as well as speed. Seems like boat handling is really the big issue...

I think that Katie has hit/driven the nail into the head of the elephant in the room, the key issue is the ability of the majority of the fleet to control their boats in the bigger winds/waves. One of the proponents of the change needs to demonstrate how the smaller mainsail is going to transform the skill set of sailors that haven't had the exposure and support to master the boat handling skills necessary to race in the larger winds/waves.

It can't solely be about the size of the mainsail, as we had Howard Hamlin and Euan McNicol at approx. 145 Kg winning a words in waves and breeze at Long Beach.

Whilst the fleet has the skill issues that is has presently, the PRO will always be behind he eight ball as the level of support resources will never be sufficient to run a race and provide prompt rescue services.

If the fleet acknowledges the limitations and people choose to race knowing that they may not be rescued for an extended period, then that may thin the fleet on windier days when the onus of the skipper when to decide to race has a greater consequence. The specific hazard of the lee shore wall at Weymouth precluded this approach, even if the event risk management approach would have entertained it. IMO it wouldn't have.
Last edited by Andrew P on Wed Sep 12, 2012 4:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

BBSCFaithfull
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by BBSCFaithfull » Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:47 pm

Andy and Katie,

I have to say that I agree with the boat handling. My crew and I sail regularly and find the lumpy stuff great. The guys with the smaller sails with the greatest respect are the ones who are getting on a bit and do struggle to get round.

I for one don't have the money to start cutting sails about and would vote against it.

Best,
Alex
Upright not upside down!

Ed Clay
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Ed Clay » Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:25 pm

Hi All

In the interest of full disclosure I was was involved in the wording of the proposed rule - so I will try and highlight where things are my view and where things were the intention of the team who made the proposal

Firstly our idea of proposing the rule is not to legislate to replace fleet and race officer decisions about when we should and shouldn't go sailing. It's to set a common understanding across the fleets about what wind speed we will sail up to at big events and to stop us developing into light wind only boats - because in Weymouth we suffered (not awfully but enough to be annoying) with not being able to race on some days - and by race I mean the majority of the fleet have a good day on the water (and rescue boats not get tied up quickly with broken boats), rather than a few of the top guys get round.

The reason that we proposed this on top of the reefing that the B6s are doing (looks great by the way) was that those people in the UK who tried reefing on masts that weren't as stiff (CST 14, CST16, CST HM1, C-tech etc.) had problems getting a good shape when reefed as the luff curve didn't match the mast. While the stiff mast and reefing solution is neat it is more expensive than a main - particularly if it just a recut.

Now getting onto my opinions a bit more. To tackle Andrew P's elephant, having got a cut down sail (an old pinhead sail we had that we got a sailmaker to recut by taking mid leech off and adding a tiny square top) we do find it makes boat handling easier but us slower. The biggest area it helps is launching where reducing flogging sail area makes life a lot easier but also really noticed it in gybes and bear aways. We are slower through the water with it though - particularly downwind. For two people getting used to sailing in new roles it certainly hasn't made us heavy weather experts - we were last on the last day we used it but it allowed us to go out in a few more knots, finish (unlike many people that day) and get better. As we get better we would probably use it less - but it would still be useful for those marginal days when you want to test yourself and the boat.

To answer Alex's point; I'm older than him - but hardly a Century Cup contender (in fact I can only enter with someone who has been drawing their state pension for over 6 years) and love sailing in breeze as well, hence my my desire to make that easier with out impacting how great these boats are in 12 knots. In terms of cost our recut cost us £150 and most people have old sails. That's around 3 trips worth of petrol for us both to get to the club. and we lost three days this spring (before the recut) where we either didn't make it off the beach or didn't rig due to too much wind... Factor in the enjoyment we would have had on the water it seems even more worth it.

Ed

Haywire
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by Haywire » Thu Sep 13, 2012 4:28 pm

OK - I'll jump in too...

From my experience (racing 14s non-stop since 1986), the challenge across the fleet is boat handling not sail size.

I've had smaller pin-head mains in the past, and have found them to be uncompetitive – particularly when the wind lightens and other boats still have their regular sails up. Unlike 49ers where lots of crews are on their country development squads and sail full time, the 14 Worlds will include mid-week and week-end racers whose boat handling skills are not quite as practiced or refined. Put most of those club-level racers out in big waves and just 20 knots of wind and many will be in trouble regardless of their mainsail size.

To help illustrate my point, take a look at what happened this past weekend. The Canadian championships were just held at RCYC on the same date and race course that will be used for the 2013 Worlds. On day one, the wind was from the NW at 18 knots with gusts to 24, with a forecast for over 30 knots by 3pm. The race course was located out on Lake Ontario about 1 mile off the Toronto Islands. The start was at 12:30 with half meter waves that eventually grew to over 2 meters. Morning clouds gave way to sun and the water was warm (21 degrees C).

The first race was run in 18 knots which sounds pretty manageable - but as the waves continued to grow everyone started to have boat handling challenges. In fact, everyone (including our 49er Olympic rep) wiped out at least once, and only 3 of the 13 boats in the fleet managed to finish. Most of the carnage took place downwind - where timing gybes in the waves became increasingly difficult. After the first race, with the wind continuing to increase the fleet decided to head home. The predicted 30 knots hit as we reached the inner harbour (where the scene was reminiscent of the upwind race home from the abandoned practice race at the Weymouth Worlds).

I’d guess that a 14 Worlds fleet of 80-100 boats would have had at least 25+ boats unable to finish that first race, and probably less than 35 would have been able to make it around again if a second race had been held before the 30 knot stuff hit. Had the racing been held in the Toronto Harbour (a bit bigger than Weymouth harbour), the majority of the fleet would have been fine – until the 30+knots hit late in the day. The difference is that boat handling in big waves is just plain hard. In my view, mainsail size can’t make up for that.

Rather than legislate wind speeds in our class rules, I believe the issue can be effectively managed by having the representative of the fleet consult with the PRO each day to determine what is in the best interest of the fleet. This has been working well for years. And it usually comes down to how many rescue boats there are available and how much the fleet wants to destroy their equipment. If the fleet wants to sail in higher winds, then the rep and the PRO can make it happen. If the waves become an issue, the rep and the PRO can adjust.

Bottom line: I’ll be voting against this proposal. I'd love to be able to measure in a second main at a Worlds, but my 2 mains would both be big square-tops!

Peter Hayward
CAN601

PS – After that initial blow-out, the conditions this week in Toronto have been great! Sunday was a shifty 5-8 knots while the rest of the week has been mid to high-teens. Yesterday I was out with the C-Class guys for a another sunny 12-18 knot session. The waves were only about 1 meter, but riding the chase boat at over 22 knots in that stuff is exhausting! Hope to see you all again next year!

joe.bersch
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Re: UK rule proposal on wind strength and mainsails

Post by joe.bersch » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:53 pm

Peter:

That was well said and your story illustrative of the issue as I see it. I don't think we would have had any different outcome in Weymouth with a rule providing for a second mainsail. Do others feel differently?

If we can cut down one mainsail so cheaply, why not let us cut down an old spinnaker too?

Joe

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