October 26, 2014

Open-Handed Regattas

by Pam
Everyone is familiar with the term single-handed or double-handed but what about open-handed? The SIs at the recent Laser Masters Worlds specifically denoted that a sailor in the water shall raise an arm with a closed fist if he does not require assistance and raise an arm with an open hand if he does require assistance. When playing a game of cards for the first time, it isn't uncommon to play with all cards on the table, facing up for all to see.

Hence, my newly created term, "open-handed regattas." I think every fleet should have an open-handed regatta at least once or twice a year.

Doug and I recently sailed in a regatta that was more like a clinic. There were 17 short races and only one person running the regatta and she had a few simple instructions. She would be coaching people as they sailed past her. There would be no yelling or protesting or we'd have to kiss and make up afterwards. Finally, we were to help those that needed it.

Those instructions, however, did not eliminate the competition element of things. Indeed, I kept getting repeatedly rolled by a sailor going downwind. No matter what I did, this sailor always rolled me going downwind, got inside rights, and finished just ahead of me. It didn't feel good. When I asked a question once that the sailor clearly knew, there was a grin and a shoulder shrug but no reply. Finally, Doug got frustrated with watching, so when I rounded right behind him once and we turned downwind, he talked me through taking his air and getting inside rights. Even though I've watched his downwind videos and have even been at the helm when he was sitting right next to me having me play what felt like a game of chicken with another boat's stern, I still did not learn the fine art of passing someone downwind. So, he sat there acting like me, a sitting duck, not defending, and talked me through the process. He said the next step is learning how to defend. It was such a wonderful way to learn. Everyone should be so lucky.

The next race, I had boats ahead of me on the downwind leg and decided to try rolling the nearest boat and getting inside rights. Worked like a charm, then I rounded slow and tight and forced the sailor wide. But afterwards, I didn't like the way it felt. That sailor usually places behind me at regattas and it almost felt like I was picking on him. Afterwards, I told him I had just learned that from Doug but it felt like a shitty thing to do. He agreed that it was indeed kind of shitty but then he saw my discomfort and added that it was shitty in the same way that jumping a man when playing checkers was shitty … it's the way the game is played.

When Doug plays with people at the front of the fleet, they all know the typical tactics and have similar success with execution. They know how to attack, how to defend, when to do it,  when to expect it and when to ignore it. It's a more evenly matched game.

At the middle and back of the fleet, it is far from an evenly matched game. It can be a little cut throat with folks tacking on you and doing things that don't make good tactical sense but seem purely personal (i.e. at least I'm going to beat YOU). You see some get intimidated because they don't know the rules or they haven't learned certain techniques and strategies. It sometimes feels hostile to me and I find it objectionable. If I rolled someone over and over using the same technique, I'm more likely to take the time to tell them what I'm doing and why it's working and when I learn how to defend, talk them through what they need to do to defend. Otherwise, it isn't a fairly matched game. There is no satisfaction or accomplishment in beating someone who is at a disadvantage.

When a front of the fleet person starts late, makes a mistake or otherwise has to sail through the fleet (back to front), they usually try to do so without disturbing or creating hardship for those that aren't in their league. Listening to two front of the fleeters at the recent words describe their experience of having to sail through a fleet was satisfying because they found it just as objectionable as me. Confirmation for me that It's not the way it's meant to be.

In comments of earlier posts about rules, people expressed concern about what is being communicated to newer sailors with respect to the importance of rule observance. This really seems silly to me because every person has their own moral compass. I follow rules based on my own moral compass combined with what has been passed to me from observing Doug and others.

Intentionally cheating, failing to do circles when you knowingly break a rule, protesting people on technicalities that don't affect the results, picking on someone with less skill and/or failing to volunteer to help someone all come from a place of a win at all costs attitude and I want no part of it.

Conversely, attempting to obey the rules, taking penalties when you've knowingly broken a rule, not picking on those that are not of your skill or knowledge level, not protesting others for minor and technical infractions and voluntarily helping those that you can every chance they will let you all comes from a place of wanting safe, fair, fun competition.

I will always prefer talking to someone over protesting them. One is playing with an open hand and the other is holding on a little too tightly. It is my own personal opinion that rigidity in mind extends to rigidity in body. Years ago, when I ended up having back surgery and my active life came to a screeching halt, I had plenty of time for reflection and looked for both physical and emotional triggers for my body's failure. One of the things I had noted was a tendency to dig in on issues, with a breaking instead of bending attitude and I sort of vowed try to retain a healthier "in the big scheme of things" perspective. 

Rule observance is less important to me than people observance. Some people are not nice and I stay away from them, some are trying to learn and I feel compelled to give them room or help if I can, some are more knowledgeable and skilled and I try (often without success) to stay out of their way, and a few are actually on my level and I enjoy the back and forth friendly competition as we trade places beating each other and continuing to communicate about what we've learned. 

Everyone should have the privilege of sailing with those more knowledgeable than themselves and being talked through various techniques and strategies on the race course with no holding back of information. It's a win-win. Good for those learning, good for those teaching, increases communication, brings up the knowledge and skill level, and builds friendships. How do you think the concept of an open-handed regatta would be received in your area? 

October 22, 2014

Altered Foils - Are They Legal?

by Pam
A favorite saying that I learned from a friend of mine is, "Sunshine is the best disinfectant." Since our readership seems to be up and there is no shortage of opinions, perhaps now is a good time to shine a little sun on the subject of altered foils.

Laser Class Rule 14(c) Surface refinishing of the centreboard is permitted provided the original shape, thickness and characteristics are not altered.

The first time Doug heard about the subject of altered foils was a few years ago from a Masters sailor (sailor 1) who had them and named about a half a dozen sailors who also had them. Doug was told that many of the top level Masters sailors use them and 'if you want to win, you have to use them too.' Then sailor 1 explained that there was a loophole in the rules that allowed for alteration without specifically breaking the rules. And even though it's supposedly "legal" no one talks about it. There is a template for measuring in at the Worlds that is a rectangular slot with equal thickness and the centerboard has to fit in the slot. This controls the maximum thickness of the board but not the placement of the thickness (up, down, forward, back). Doug's theory is that the alteration is a movement of the thickness but he doesn't know for sure.

The entire subject made Doug uncomfortable. First, because of the people named (at the very top) and second because it didn't sound legal and he didn't want to believe that he had to use them in order to be competitive. Doug never considered using them but would keep an eye out for signs that others were indeed using them.

At the recent Masters Worlds, the subject came up again. This time another sailor (sailor 2) gave another list of specific names, some of which were in Doug's fleet and one of which, (sailor 3), Doug knew beyond a shadow of a doubt would never use them. But then sailor 2 went on to give specifics about what was done and how to tell them apart from regular blades. How they are fatter and some may be slightly weighted at the bottom to the point that they don't float like other foils, how they are more rounded here and bull-nosed there. He said those who have them don't have to hike as hard. 

This prompted Doug to talk to sailor 3 who would have been sailing right next to one of those that had been specifically named by both sailor 1 and sailor 2 and asked if he noticed anything when they were side by side. Sailor 3 said the other guy seemed to have a more relaxed style and didn't seem to be working as hard as he was in order to go the same speed. Sailor 3 hadn't heard about altered foils and he didn't seem to really care. He had noticed a consistency problem in manufacturing and some boards were generally thicker than others and when selecting stock foils, he advised choosing the thicker ones. Same thing with centerboard trucks, some where narrower which is also better.

Having a little time on my hands at the Worlds, I went on a reconnaissance mission, covertly taking pictures of the foils of one of the sailors named that was in Doug's fleet. Later I zoomed in on the pictures. They looked like charter blades to me. Although that sailor was doing quite well, he wasn't on the podium and he seemed to be working just as hard as Doug. Then I skimmed through my photos and checked the tops of the centerboards of a few of those named that would have flown to the event and could tell who appeared to have brought their own blades and who was using charter blades.

In the meantime, Doug chatted with two class officers on the topic. Both were surprised to hear of the issue and both named the US person most people used to finish foils but they hadn't heard about alterations of any sort. Both encouraged Doug to talk to the class measurer about changing the measuring process to eliminate any doubt about alternations. One of the officers did ask rhetorically why anyone would bring their own blades and risk damage when they were getting perfectly new ones with the charter. Good question. 

So far there is one admission of use, some casual mention of others' use, one potential observance of use, but mostly, just unsubstantiated claims. I suggested Doug order a set to see if they really do make a difference because there is simply no other way to know. He refuses to do so. I told him they could be for me since I already work harder than everyone else to stay on the course and I don't ever win anything on a Laser. He still refuses.

What would you do with this information? a) Nothing, it's irrelevant; b) investigate it quietly; c) investigate it loudly; d) order a set and join the crowd; e) sail your own race and forget about it; or f) other? Doug tried a and b and has opted for e.

Tag … you're it.

October 20, 2014

Rules at the Front vs. the Middle and Back

by Pam
Doug won’t write this post but we’ve talked about it often over the years and it’s a topic that I find interesting. Then we saw an example play out this past week where some zigged and others zagged. I believe it is what separates those at the front from the rest of the fleet.
Have you ever observed the mark roundings on a keelboat course on a windy day with traffic converging as the crews set and douse spinnakers? Ever noticed how the front of the fleet rounds in almost complete silence with flawless crew work, the skippers communicate with each other with simple glances or nods. The loudest thing you hear is the spinnaker pop as it fills and the sound of waves as they disappear downwind. It’s a thing of beauty to watch. Then the middle of the fleet starts rounding and you start to hear the skippers shouting ‘starboard’ and ‘room’ as they get close to the mark, which is followed by calling out instructions to their crew. Then, it gets even louder as the back of the fleet arrive, skippers shouting at each other and at their crews and the crews shouting amongst themselves, feet pounding on the deck and poles being slammed around and dropped as things go horribly wrong. It’s hilarious to watch and such an incredible contrast from the front to the back.
We are all subject to the same Rules of Racing but we don’t all play the game the same way. The back of the fleet tends to be very rigid, tacking on each other, enforcing their starboard rights, often without any good reason other than to just keep someone behind them. Their strategy is often just to beat so and so. They protest each other and argue about the rules. I don’t find it fun. It gets a little better in the middle but oh how I would love it if we could all sail like I hear they do in the front.
There are unwritten rules at the front … get clear of the fleet, separate, and then we’ll play. They work together, they don’t tack on each other out of the starting gate, they let each other sail their own race, and sometimes even let each other “play through” so to speak so that they can separate from the pack and go play and learn from each other and they all just keep getting better and better. There is a fluidity, a give and take and they save their battles for the end when they know how many points separate them and then everything they do is for a strategic purpose that yields x number of points. They don’t protest each other over technicalities and things that clearly do not yield an advantage (it's not honorable). When they do see clear infractions without circles, they note it for sure and it factors into their respect for the sailor but they usually let it slide and balance it against everything else ... he’s sailing better than me and is going to beat me anyway … or he’s sailing worse than me and I’m going to beat him anyway … or sure he may have just grabbed a point but I lost 5 with stupid mistakes so I’m not going to make a big deal of it, etc. They embrace the essence of the rules … safe, fair and fun competition … more than they do the specific rules. Sure, there are times when a protest is necessary but it is usually based on things that do matter or happen to be a zero tolerance issue of a particular sailor (like Rule 42).
So, when Doug was faced with someone accusing him of breaking a rule, he was thinking like those at the front of the fleet. When he consulted with a class representative who is also a front of the fleet sailor, and offered to toss the races, the representative was also thinking like those at the front. In the grand scheme of things, it was irrelevant because there was no harm, no foul. When that resulted in others being all up in arms and insisting that it darn well does matter, it still didn’t matter to Doug and he was still willing to withdraw and not waste his time on the matter. However, not being a front of the fleet sailor, I wanted to get down in the mud and "wrestle with the pigs" and don’t want him to concede the point unless it’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
In the meantime, Doug has moved on but asked me to go ahead and remove his World’s journals from the blog. In being transparent, there was an implied agreement of trust between he and the readers and that trust has been violated. It’s unfortunate. Prior to having a blog, during the Worlds he simply sent out a daily email to friends who were interested, supportive and offered suggestions. He’ll probably go back to that format.
Yes, we are all supposed to follow the same rules and play the same game. But there are two different ways of playing the game and following the rules. Do I want to encourage new sailors to be rigid, inflexible and judgmental of their fellow sailors or do I want to encourage them rise above it all, embrace the essence of the rules with a slightly different concept of honorable sailing? I play one game and Doug plays another. His game and the people he plays with seem to have a hell of a lot more fun.
The World's journals have been removed. That's the game Doug plays … he moves forward while others sail themselves to the back of the fleet. The posts and comments with all the drama have not been removed. I think it's educational and shows the game that most of us play. Which one is more appealing to you? 

October 19, 2014

Weight of Clothing and Equipment

by Pam
This is a follow up to my Illegalities post.

Practically everyone knows about the Kirby, ILCA, ISAF, LP, PSA, Rastegar lawsuit. The various forums have been buzzing for years now about who is right and wrong and Kirby, the ILCA and Laser Performance have been repeatedly tried and convicted by countless posters with uninformed, biased opinions. Fortunately, our laws don't work that way. Trials allow an impartial Judge or jury to decide proper application of the law and then to decide on appropriate penalties.

Our Racing Rules of Sailing and the ILCA Class Rules are no different. They have put a system of protests, protest hearings and appeals in place whereby, those who are qualified, interpret the rules and decide on appropriate penalties, if any. Many people protesting another have been convinced beyond doubt that they were correct only to find that they were not and that they misunderstood the rules.

Doug is a front of the fleet sailor. When someone protests him on the water, right or wrong, he concedes, does his circles and moves on. If he breaks a rule that he is aware of: hitting a mark, fouling a boat, etc., he does his circles and moves on. When an anonymous comment suggested he broke a rule, he didn't agree and didn't really pay any attention to it. But when "anonymous" continued to press and outright called his behavior illegal, while Doug still did not agree he was prepared to concede, withdraw and move on. I called foul and said no way. I read the rule, I read the SIs and I suggested he run it past the properly authorized authority who said he should not withdraw. 

Additional comments have already tried and convicted Doug. So, I read the RRS and then I consulted with a US Sailing Judge and asked him to explain how 43.1(a) and 43.1(b) related to each other and the intent of the rule. He explained that 43.1(a) was to prevent the use of clothing that was specifically modified to include the insertion of weights (weight jackets, for example). He explained that because it is also possible to add weight by layering up that 43.1(b) was to impose a maximum limit of weight that could be added by layering up. Appendix H specifies how to measure any additional weight that is added. So, I asked if I added a cotton layer that had the (intended or unintended) effect of adding weight but I was still way under the maximum allowed under 43.1(b) as measured by Appendix H, does that violate 43.1(a) and he said no, that's fine. A US Sailing Judge is qualified to know the rules, why they were established and how to apply them. I trust his opinion far more than an anonymous comment. I do not know whether a consensus of Sailing Judges would all come to the same conclusion though. 

However, I continued to research and read the Laser Class rules when it comes to the weight of clothing even though no one mentioned any violation of Laser Class rules. The Laser Class rules modify RRS 43.1(b) in a way permitted by the RRS but they also modify Appendix H which is specifically prohibited. Gasp ... did the ILCA break a RRS rule? Then they added a little twist about a prohibition on non-floating clothing and equipment that probably few people know about that leaves me with unanswered questions about the definition of "dead weight" and "protective clothing."

"Cheating" as defined by the Laser Class rules is doing something you know is illegal. Sportsmanship, as defined by the RRS indicates that if a competitor breaks a rule, they should promptly take a penalty which may be to retire. There is no way to cheat if you do not know if something is illegal and there is no way to immediately take a penalty if you do not know if a rule has been broken. 

Yes, we should all play by the same rules and we should take our penalties when we know that we have broken a rule. But what about when you don't know if you've broken a rule but someone who does not have the authority to protest you nor the qualification to interpret the rules, declares that you have broken a rule but those that who have the authority to protest you refuse to do so and those who are qualified to interpret the rules say that you have not broken a rule. What then? 

Here are the applicable rules ... so far as I know. Educate yourselves and ask questions from those that are qualified to answer them.  

2013-2016 Racing Rules of Sailing

SPORTSMANSHIP AND THE RULES 
Competitors in the sport of sailing are governed by a body of rules that they are expected to follow and enforce. A fundamental principle of sportsmanship is that when competitors break a rule they will promptly take a penalty, which may be to retire.

43 COMPETITOR CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT 

43.1 (a) Competitors shall not wear or carry clothing or equipment for the purpose of increasing their weight. 

(b) Furthermore, a competitor’s clothing and equipment shall not weigh more than 8 kilograms, excluding a hiking or trapeze harness and clothing (including footwear) worn only below the knee. Class rules or sailing instructions may specify a lower weight or a higher weight up to 10 kilograms. Class rules may include footwear and other clothing worn below the knee within that weight. A hiking or trapeze harness shall have positive buoyancy and shall not weigh more than 2 kilograms, except that class rules may specify a higher weight up to 4 kilograms. Weights shall be determined as required by Appendix H. 

(c) When an equipment inspector or a measurer in charge of weighing clothing and equipment believes a competitor may have broken rule 43.1(a) or 43.1(b) he shall report the matter in writing to the race committee. 

Appendix H - WEIGHING CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT 
See rule 43. This appendix shall not be changed by sailing instructions or prescriptions of national authorities. 

H1 Items of clothing and equipment to be weighed shall be arranged on a rack. After being saturated in water the items shall be allowed to drain freely for one minute before being weighed. The rack must allow the items to hang as they would hang from clothes hangers, so 
as to allow the water to drain freely. Pockets that have drain-holes that cannot be closed shall be empty, but pockets or items that can hold water shall be full. 

H2 When the weight recorded exceeds the amount permitted, the competitor may rearrange the items on the rack and the equipment inspector or measurer shall again soak and weigh them. This procedure may be repeated a second time if the weight still exceeds the amount permitted. 

H3 A competitor wearing a dry suit may choose an alternative means of weighing the items. 

(a) The dry suit and items of clothing and equipment that are worn outside the dry suit shall be weighed as described above. 

(b) Clothing worn underneath the dry suit shall be weighed as worn while racing, without draining. 

(c) The two weights shall be added together. 

86 CHANGES TO THE RACING RULES

86.1 A racing rule shall not be changed unless permitted in the rule itself or as follows

(a) Prescriptions of a national authority may change a racing rule, but not the Definitions; a rule in the Introduction; Sportsmanship and the Rules; Part 1, 2 or 7; rule 42, 43, 69, 70, 71, 75, 76.3, 79 or 80; a rule of an appendix that changes one of these rules; Appendix H or N; or ISAF Regulation 19, 20, 21 or 22. 

(b) Sailing instructions may change a racing rule by referring specifically to it and stating the change, but not rules 76.1 or 76.2, Appendix R, or a rule listed in rule 86.1(a).

(c) Class rules may change only racing rules 42, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54. Such changes shall refer specifically to the rule and state the change. 


ILCA Class Rules

Cheating

In our sport in every club and class there is the odd person who needs to cheat to win. Cheating is doing something that you know is illegal. Whether you gain an advantage or not is irrelevant.


6. CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT 
(a) In alteration of RRS 43.1 (b) the maximum total weight of competitors’ clothing and equipment shall be 9 kg (for Laser Radial and 4.7 rigs please see part 4).

(b) Competitors shall not wear or carry non floating clothing or equipment which in total weight 
exceeds 500 grammes dead weight except protective sailing clothing. 

(c) For the purposes of weighing clothing and equipment as required by RRS Appendix H three coat hangers may be used instead of a rack.

October 16, 2014

Hyères - Observations from the Sidelines

by Pam
Coaching

First and foremost, many, many thanks to sailing coach, Eduard Rodes, from Barcelona for allowing me to tag along and watch him work. Coincidently, that meant following the Standard Grand Masters (Doug's fleet) around the course. Eduard is Spanish but spoke English with a British accent and also easily switched to Italian and French. He was very knowledgeable and an absolute delight to spend the week with and watch work. He apparently frequently communicates with Julian Bethwaite in exploring new ideas and ways to do things.  Small world.

Eduard Rodes
We primarily followed Miguel Noguer, 1980 Olympic gold medalist in the Flying Dutchman class. Eduard mentioned that Miguel was an Olympic champion and a dentist but I had no idea that he and Alejandro Abascal earned Spain's first Olympic gold medal in sailing. I would imagine that makes him a bit of national hero in Spain.

Alejandro Abascal (left) and Miguel Noguer (right) - 1980 having just won gold medal

Miquel Noguer - 2014
Leave it to Doug to get lucky and meet just the right people in line for measuring the morning of the practice race and get me such a wonderful front row seat. I spent every day but the last day on the rib with Eduard which allowed us to move among the competitors as though we were one of them. This shot of Tracy Usher between races with my little handheld waterproof camera shows just how close we were allowed to be. Pretty awesome.

Tracy Usher
Wind Conditions

Getting upwind to the windward mark was a bit of a beating when the wind was up and I noticed the official photographer only made the trip up on the first day when it was relatively calm with flat water. Not even the jury boats ventured up that far. Windward mark roundings were strictly on the honor system.

I wish that I could have taken pictures or steady enough video to capture the waves on the windy days. I hung on for dear life on the rib as we climbed up wave after wave and dropped off the other side. There was definitely a pattern of one to two big rolling waves, then a handful of little choppy waves followed by one to two big rollers. I was in awe of the sailors in those conditions because it flat out would have terrified me.

It was interesting to note that the conditions on the radial course were much tamer than the conditions on the standard course. The weather report came from the airport which was sheltered and closer to the radial course so it always underestimated the conditions. That might have played a role in why two of the switch hitters, Doug and Al Clarke, chose the full rig as opposed to the radial. The SIs originally had the courses flipped but someone must have decided it would be fun to put the full rigs in the heavier wind because they swapped them just before racing began. The radials didn't get a race off the first day while most of those in the standard fleet were hiking a little. Quite a difference. After experiencing the heavier wind, my instructions to Doug each day became really simple, 'just stay upright and stay alive.'

There was a capsize witnessed near the rocks that was rumored to have resulted in a death of a competitor which sort of freaked me out. It was just an example of the communication mix ups with various languages being spoken. In reality, one of the volunteers had lost his father recently and scattered his ashes and brought roses for all of the sailor's to drop into the sea on their way to the race course. So far as I know, only two sailors required medical attention. One lost the tip of a finger when it was crushed between two boats and another had a collision between his eye socket and a deck cleat.

Sobering Reality

We were situated close to a French naval base with military aircraft also stationed nearby. On several occasions, we saw fighter jets fly over, fully loaded with bombs. It was a sobering contrast between 499 sailors from all over the world peacefully interacting in a friendly competition versus planes overhead headed to bomb another country. It was impossible not to stop and take notice.

Logistics

There were 499 competitors at this event which is the largest they've ever had. The lady managing the 160 charter boats said there will never be another Laser event this large. They had to buy 160 boats and no one else can afford to do that again. She indicated that the boats were being shipped off to dozens of different dealerships after the regatta.

Charter boats after the regatta
Charter boat check in line
The logistics of distributing and checking in 160 charters, not to mention measuring in 499 boats was quite a feat. Due to language barriers, the instructions on the charters had become confused with half being told they didn't have to keep the numbered trolly with the number assigned to the boat but just needed to have it on a charter trolly and the other half being told that they must turn in the trolly with the same the number as their boat.

Sailors coming off the water would stand waste deep in the water alternating between pointing at charter trollies and shouting out for a specific trolly number (in various languages). It was funny and sad all at once. Especially, after one or two charter trollies reportedly sank which turned coming into the harbor into a game of musical chairs with the last person getting tires or bottles to set their boat on. Fortunately, the correct instruction was no matching between trolly and boat number and luckily, Doug, whose fleet was the the last in on the final day, had finished the last race in 2nd place and was able to get a trolly. I have no idea what happened to the last charter guy in.

Hello? This is a Masters Event

The SIs for the event were made available online only and not printed and handed out at registration but a copy was posted on the notice board for sailors to refer to. The notice board area was fairly large with different panels for SIs, notices, standard and radial fleet scores, and daily fleet assignments for those with split fleets. But the print was small and also posted up high which was the worst combination for Masters over 45 trying to see the information. Everyone was constantly looking for reading glasses or trying to stand back in a crowd to see the board or just asking the person next to them what it said.

Doug and I went to read the board one day and he stepped forward and I looked down to find my reading glasses. I then snuggled up behind him, wrapped my arms around his chest and rested my head on his shoulder. Then I had this odd sensation and the guy I was snuggling turned to look at me and I looked left and saw Doug standing next to me. Oops!

When is someone going to change the rules for Masters regattas to require a minimum 16 point font size for all instructions, notices and scores. Better yet, just project it up onto the side of a building.

Foiling Laser

Peter Stephinson, co-inventor of the foiling Laser kit (www.glidefree.com.au), was competing in the Standard Grand Master fleet in Robert Scheidt's old charter boat.  He also had 4 Laser foiling kits with him for people to try. The lay day was to have been a chance for demonstrations but the lay day was cancelled which was the biggest disappointment of the trip.

Peter Stephinson - this guy was one of a kind and impossible not to like
He indicated to Doug that the ideal configuration for Laser foiling was sailing double-handed with a 4.7 rig. Perfect for me and Doug. Apparently, it won't work if you try to sail it like a Moth, instead you just sail normally and up and away you go. He even went out one evening after racing, using a fellow's boat that had pulled the drain plug and it was full of water, but up out of the water it went. I watched him coming into the harbor and land and remove the foils in about knee deep water. It just took a minute. He said they are designed to immediately disengage should you hit something under water and they had in fact hit a stingray once and it disengaged immediately. They plan to test it with a submerged log but haven't found a test pilot yet; however, he's confident it will disengage and not damage the blades.

They've had success in the Australian and European markets but haven't yet even attempted to market it in the US. They are looking for a dealer so if you're interested, get in touch with Peter. We offered to bring one back and demo it but apparently we weren't the only ones trying to score a free set for demo purposes ... no shortage of volunteers there. But they are seriously trying to find a US dealer. We asked about the sticking point … the price, and it's not going to be discounted any time soon because they are selling plus they have been named Yachts and Yachting's Dinghy of the Year for 2014.

Lay Day

First day of racing was Sunday and it started with a postponement. By the end of the day the notice board announced the cancellation of the lay day on Wednesday. That actually worked out because due to a freak storm in Dallas, it kicked off delays and missed flights that had me traveling for 24 hours and I was really suffering from jet lag. This is how I started the week and exactly how I ended it too. 



Illegalities … Where is the Line?

By Pam
An anonymous poster reading Doug's sailing notes from the recent Worlds commented that Doug did something illegal and suggested he withdraw from two races. This has given rise to some discussion and reflection. I generally encourage Doug to refrain from addressing such accusations. I'm sort of protective that way.

Doug follows three basic rules when sailing: don't get greedy at the marks, do your circles and avoid the protest room at all costs. I imagine most of the front of the fleet guys have their own simplified version of the rules that keep them out of trouble most of the time and, when in doubt, they can spin on a dime and not lose anything they can't get back.

The Worlds are Doug's main sailing event each year but he doesn't get the least bit nervous anymore. For him, it's about staying fit, seeing old friends who he's sailed with for decades and meeting new ones and he loves going head to head with really good competition and learning and trying new stuff. He has no desire to cheat or do anything illegal in an effort to gain any unfair advantage. I'm pretty sure he only skimmed SI's for this event. They were in small print and he's still having problems with his eyes and he just assumed they said what they always say.

During the postponement on the first day we were talking with Brett Beyer and I mentioned the yellow bracelet everyone was wearing. Doug told me it was to get him into the various events and mine was a cloth one since I wasn't sailing but I had seen a sailor with a cloth one and was confused. Brett started laughing and asked if Doug was serious. He explained that Doug was supposed to put the bracelet on the check-in board before sailing and then remove it when he returned or he'd receive a 6 point scoring penalty for the day. Good thing we had a postponement and talked with Brett.

When Doug got to the first mark leading in the first race, he turned to Roberto Bini (ITL) right behind him and asked if they were sailing the inner or outer course. Doug was confused because the fleet in front was on the inner course and previous Worlds alternated inner with outer. It was indeed the inner again. When they returned to shore, Roberto came over and asked if Doug really didn't know or was just messing with him. This is classic Doug. Absent minded professor type, good guy, talented sailor, not sweating the details, lucky as can be, and usually surrounded by really good people.

So, to the illegalities, the rule of thumb is that if you are fast, you don't change a thing but if you are slow, you keep trying different things until you are fast. In the tune up event Doug found he was slow so he experimented with equipment, rigging, technique, clothing, etc. A few things he tried were: a new light air mainsheet in the practice race, a rolled sail, a hastily broken in sail that he stretched the heck out of on shore, a new rigging system for his outhaul that wouldn't tweak his rotator cuff which is still healing, sailing with and without a compass, a new knee brace, ankle boots, ankle support wraps for his feet in place of ankle boots, a different starting technique, sailing the course vs. the fleet, sailing on the less dominant right side of the course vs. the left side, a new lightweight wool top, and the alleged illegal heavier warmth layer on one particularly windy day that added weight when sailing.

Rule 43.1(a) states: Competitors shall not wear or carry clothing or equipment for the purpose of increasing their weight.

Bottom line, Doug was not aware of this rule and probably would not have tried a 'heavy when wet' warmth layer if he'd known about it. However, it did not provide him with an advantage. He was dead last at the 3rd mark in the first race that day and he was so far back in the second race that the rib I was on could not wait for him to finish. He edited his post to add warmth over weight so as to not wrongly influence others who might read the post later and also because it was equally true. This lengthy post is ensure the subject is not dismissed out of hand but given proper attention and focus for others in the future.

So, was trying a heavy when wet warmth layer illegal? Personally, I don't think so. Doug added one 'heavy when wet' shirt. He generally wears less gear than most competitors (no boots, wet suit shorts - not pants). Any reasonable person would be cold in his usual gear. On top of that he bangs and scrapes his knees and feet on everything and bleeds all over the place and he usually doesn't feel the cold or see the blood or missing skin until he's between races or when he gets to shore. If he would just wear the gear I've bought him, he'd be much heavier and injury free at the end of the day. Despite the warm temperatures, Doug returned to shore most days and was wet, cold and shivering. He does this often (which really sort of ticks me off) and when he went with the heavy warmth layer on the day the wind was up, part of the reason was actually because he began to wonder if he might be making mistakes because he's cold (to which I say, duh?). Even though he was warm that day, the results appear to show that his Canadian brain does better when chilled. Actually, I think he's just a creature of habit and the less he has on, the more connected he is to the boat and the more he can feel the changes in the wind.

Should he now withdraw from the two races? Well, one was his worst race and was already discarded. If he withdrew from the second, he'd move down 5 places. Sure, he wants to do the right thing but he also feels like one heavy layer worn one day as an experiment by someone out of the top 10 who did horribly that day just isn't that relevant. I could point fingers in other directions at things that others at the front of the fleets are doing that is relevant but, really, does it matter? They pay for the trip, they pay to sail, and they sail for fun and fitness. When they win, they only receive a tiny little cube, not money.

Doug does his best to sail clean and fair and to be very open about what he's doing (not many publish a race-by-race account) His results in this regatta were what would be expected of someone of his talent with a weight disadvantage. He rose to the top in the light stuff and fell back in the heavy stuff. Everything was as it should be. A blog post that emphasized one aspect of a selected layer is shaky grounds for accusing someone of illegal behavior and asking for his withdrawal from races. 

According to the SI's (4.5 and 5.1), the whole wet clothes or equipment issue can only be addressed or protested by a class representative, race committee or jury. Doug brought the matter to the attention of a class representative and was told "there is no way you should ask to be tossed from those races. You are a totally honest sailor and it was an honest mistake, and clearly didn't give you any advantage." Doug is now acutely aware of Rule 43.1(a).

October 14, 2014

Kids - You Can Never Start Them Too Young!

By Doug
One of the things that we love about sharing our adventures is hearing from others about what they have learned. At Hyėres, we met Alle Roodbergen (NED) who proudly showed us pictures of his son on a hiking bench and encouraged us to keep blogging. 

Alle's 4 year old son, Floris, getting in shape for his Optimist career that will start in just 2 years:

  

Alle said "Your hiking bench without question has played a big part in me getting in shape for this event. At 1.74 mtr and 78 kg [5' 8" and 172 pounds] I have been struggling with these conditions and I'm sure it has been the same for you. With tomorrow the final race day I am 11th now overall in the Standard Apprentice fleet, so I am very happy!" Alle finished 12th out of 42 in the Apprentice fleet. Congratulations!


October 06, 2014

Hyères Master Worlds - Day 1 & 2 Pictures


Team USA - most of them 
Foiling Laser rigging is here along with the foiling Laser inventor who is competing in Scheidt's boat (not foiling).  We were supposed to get demos and rides on Wednesday but they've cancelled the lay day. 
Standard rig  parking - part of it
Wind ... let's launch 250 boats all at once


Standard fleet on the horizon ... some of them

September 29, 2014

No Compass - No Problem

by Pam
Doug's first post from France was that his bag had been lost in transit. It turns out that it wasn't lost but merely detained in the US by the TSA. 

Apparently, they decided his hiking stick, compass, life jacket, hiking pants, vang, and various lines looked like elaborate equipment for some sort of sinister plot. So, the careful packing of his compass inside his life jacket was all for naught. The contents of his bag had been turned inside out and his compass was broken in transit. Fair warning to other sailors traveling. It might not be a bad idea to put a brochure of the event you're headed to along with a picture of the boat and its various equipment inside your bag so security can figure out rather quickly what you're up to. 

After Doug's post we received a very helpful email from Mike with a brilliant suggestion. Since there might be other terrorist sailors making their way to France armed with dangerous hiking sticks and compasses, this might come in handy for others whose compasses are lost or broken along the way.

The shadow of your mast on the deck can be used as a compass with reasonable accuracy. The earth revolves at 15 degrees per hour, so at the equator the shadow of a stick moves at 15 degrees per hour. It is less or more depending on latitude and winter or summer because the vertical angle to the sun is less than 90 degrees.

Anyway the important thing is the shadow will only shift 1-2 degrees per leg of a race due to the sun so 5 degrees shifts are detectable.

For a Laser, 5 degrees will be 1 ¾” on the deck edge opposite the mast, so that is probably the resolution of measurement. If the shadow reaches the transom it is about 7” per 5 degrees shift.

The biggest source of error can be heel angle. If the sun is side-on port tack, the shadow will be opposite the mast with a resolution of about 2” per 5 degrees.

However on starboard the shadow will be on the bow or stern with a resolution of ~7” per 5 degrees, but the shadow will move a lot due to heel.

Also, on port the shadow will move with pitching, whereas starboard will be insensitive.

Anyway I don’t think about it too hard – I just note the positions of the mast shadow when I’m lifted and knocked on both tacks.

Thanks Mike!  Doug really appreciates you sharing this. 


For now, I'm posting and commenting for Doug because Blogger keeps translating everything to French. Hopefully, he'll find a workaround for posting his competition notes. 

September 28, 2014

Hyères - Good News / Bad News

by Doug

Good news - got to Hyėres and the place where I'm staying is better than expected.

Bad news - none of my sailing gear arrived and has been lost.

Good news - was able to get my charter boat and borrow a sail and rigging for the practice regatta - thank you Regis!

Bad news - Saturday, just made it to the starting line on time, light conditions with lots of chop with the open water. Upwind speed was wasted because I did not have my compass and never got into phase, was spanked by almost everyone.

Good news: practiced with Martin (SWE) after the racing, upwind speed was good.

Bad news - Martin is much faster downwind. Hmmm.

Good news - woke up Sunday after a second good night's sleep. No jet lag.

Bad news - British Airlines is still looking for my sailing gear.

Good news - got a text that my gear has been found, no details about when it will be delivered.

Bad news - three races in 10-20, sailed again in my 'plane' clothes. When I was practicing in Dallas, the boat felt like an extension of my body. Here in the largest waves for me since Jeju (2006), I really struggled. No hiking pants + no compass = getting spanked, again.

Good news - two days of racing and a long list of things to work on this week.

Bad news - the freight company did not get an answer at my hotel and could not deliver my sailing gear.

Good news - the driver figured it was sporting equipment, saw the yacht club, and stopped to ask if anyone knew me. The office did and my gear was waiting for me after the racing. Thanks to a brilliant driver for the extra effort!!


Bad news - a card in my baggage told me that it was held up in the US by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) which is responsible for airline security. In going through my gear, they managed to break (open?) my compass.
Good news - repaired my compass and look forward to more practice this week with the many friends who have arrived.
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