February 23, 2015

Kingston, Here We Come!

By Doug
I was asked about my preparation for the next Master Worlds in Kingston, so here are the four things I'll be doing.

Lasers are sailed in three different conditions: light winds (up to 5 knots), medium winds (for me, 5 to 15 knots), and strong winds (for me, over 15). I do not know of a single Laser sailor who has world-class speed in all three, so we have to specialize.

We don't have to worry about light conditions because a race at a Laser Worlds will not start with winds under 5 knots, so this leaves medium and strong. As discussed here, your weight dictates your best conditions and what you need to work on:
  • If you're light, then you need to be fast in medium conditions and you need to work on being in great shape.
  • If you're heavy, you need to work on your medium conditions and you had better be in shape to do well in a breeze.
So, here's my own plan:
  • I'm light and my medium speed is good, but I'll brush up by (1) practicing at night. I have found that this is the best way to get a "feel" of what is fast in a Laser.
  • Kingston will probably not have many windy days, but some bad finishes like I had at the last Worlds at Hyères will kill any chances of doing well. So, I'm focusing on my (2) cardio on an elliptical machine and (3) strength on a hiking bench.
This plan is verified by the conditions at Kingston's airport:
"The wind is over 6 knots at 10 AM no less than 65% of the days, and from
noon to 1600 hours it holds above 6 knots over 85% of the days."
Translation: we can expect medium conditions.

This will be my final event as a Grand Master, so I'll be sailing a full rig. For the final preparations, I'll be (4) training on Italy's Lake Como with Roberto Bini (ITA), then competing with him at the Euro Masters, and then training with Mark Bethwaite (AUS) and others in Kingston before the Worlds start.

 It should be an awesome event!

February 11, 2015

Dave Perry on RRS 43.1(a) and 43.1(b)

by Pam
Dave Perry
Dave Perry is recognized worldwide as an authority and expert the Racing Rules of Sailing.  When I reached out to Dave for his assistance, I was pleasantly surprised by his willingness to go above and beyond in his reply as well as his willingness to continue the dialogue with answers to numerous follow up questions. Many thanks to Dave for taking the time to provide us with his interpretation of RRS 43.1(a) and 43.1(b) as well as sharing some insights into the history and purpose of these rules. 

For more on the rules, get Dave Perry’s two books Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing through 2016 (which includes the complete rule book) and Dave Perry’s 100 Best Racing Rules Quizzes available at US Sailing, 800 US SAIL-1, or www.ussailing.org.

Posted with permission of Dave Perry:

I am happy to give you my personal opinions on the hypothetical questions you sent me. These are solely my personal opinions.

Rules 43.1(a) and 43.1(b) are independent rules which address two separate issues dealing with the wearing of clothing and equipment when racing.

Rules 43.1(a) is a stand-alone requirement. It clearly states that competitors are not allowed to wear or carry any clothing or equipment with the purpose or intent of increasing their weight. In other words, if part of the reason the person wore something was to increase their weight, that breaks rule 43.1(a)...period. This has nothing to do with the overall weight limit described in 43.1(b).

Rule 43.1(b) begins "Furthermore...", which means "in addition to the requirement in rule 43.1(a)..." Nothing in rule 43.1(b) is an exception to the clear requirement in rule 43.1(a).

Rule 43.1(b) puts a maximum weight on all clothing and equipment. The clothing and equipment referred to in rule 43.1(b) is clothing and equipment worn for purposes other than increasing the weight of the sailor (which is banned completely by rule 43.1(a)).

The history of 43.1(a) is that for a long time (up through 1972) sailors, such as Finn sailors, increased their body weight by wearing extra weight in the form of sweat shirts and other water absorbing garments that, when wet, would weigh up to 100 pounds. In 1973, the IYRU (former ISAF) decided that was unhealthy due to back and knee injuries, and instituted rule 22.3(a) (a ban on wearing clothing and equipment for the purpose of increasing weight) which was word for word the same as current rule 43.1(a). But then they added rule 22.3(b) which said “A class which desires to make an exception to rule 22.3(a) may do so, but the total weight of the clothing and equipment cannot exceed 20 kilos. The racing rules continued this way (prohibiting the wearing of clothing and equipment for the purpose of increasing weight, but allowing it *if* the class rules allowed it) but shifted the maximum weight down to 15kg, unless the class stated a lesser or greater weight, in which case the max weight was set at 20 kilos.

I was part of the first Laser generation (first hull was #931) that wore water bottles in the 70’s when we raced. I think the Laser class max was set at 10 kilos (which was basically two water bottles, a t-shirt, a PFD, pair of shorts, watch, socks and Aigle boots). My back is now permanently injured with two degenerated discs.

In 1997, ISAF completely banned the wearing of clothing and equipment for the purpose of increasing the sailor's weight, again for health reasons. That ban is currently rule 43.1(a). The way they completely banned it was to remove from the rule the exception clause that had been in the book from 1973-1996 which allowed the classes to permit the wearing of clothing and equipment for the purpose of increasing weight. Note that rule 43 cannot be changed by class rules or the sailing instructions (see rule 86.1).

The answers to your four Cases therefore are (and this is without studying the current Laser class rules other than what you quote in your blog, which I read in its entirety):

Hypothetical Facts
Case 1:
Sailor A wears an additional shirt that has been specifically designed to allow for the insertion of lead weights and weights are inserted, however, the total weight of Sailor A's clothing is 7.5 kg, as measured according to Appendix H, which was strategically calculated to be just below the 8 kg limit imposed by RRS 43.1(b). Is Sailor A in violation of 43.1(a)?

Case 2:
Sailor A wears an additional shirt that is heavy when wet solely for the purpose of adding weight, however, the total weight of Sailor A's clothing is 7 kg, as measured according to Appendix H, which is well below the 8 kg limit imposed by 43.1(b). Is Sailor A in violation of 43.1(a)?

Case 3:
Sailor A wears an additional shirt that is heavy when wet for the primary purpose of warmth with the added benefit that it also adds additional weight, however, the total weight of Sailor A's clothing is 4 kg, as measured according to Appendix H, which is well below the 8 kg limit imposed by 43.1(b). Is Sailor A in violation of 43.1(a)?

Case 4:
Sailor A, due to financial limitations, wears technical sailing gear that is old and outdated and made of heavier materials, therefore the total weight of Sailor A's clothing is 8.5 kg as measured according to Appendix H, which is in violation of the 8 kg limit imposed by 43.1(b). Is Sailor A in violation of 43.1(a)?

Case 1 - yes, because the purpose of wearing the clothing and equipment is to increase the sailor's weight.

Case 2 - yes, for same reason as Case 1.

Case 4 - clearly the sailor breaks 43.1(b) unless the class rules permit a higher weight or the sailor is on a boat required to be equipped with lifelines (see rule 43.1(c)). Whether they also break 43.1(a) depends on the reason they wore that gear.

Case 3 - this is the tricky one, because it becomes a gray area between wearing a garment for warmth or protection, and wearing it for the purpose of adding weight. Setting aside the issue that some people will try to take advantage of this gray area by "saying" the gear was for warmth or protection but "knowing truthfully" that they are wearing it to increase their weight, the answer to whether Sailor A is breaking rule 43.1(a) is in the truthful answer to this question: why did the sailor choose to wear that garment?

Case 89 is the only ISAF Case on this, and stemmed from a situation in, I believe, the 1996 Olympics where a top finishing 470 crew, I believe, was wearing a camelback garment with a water bottle inserted, with a drinking tube attached. The crew was protested for breaking rule 61.1(a) (equivalent to rule 43.1(a) in the current book). The crew claimed the purpose of wearing the garment was to provide hydration during the race which otherwise was very difficult as the crew was on the wire most the race. The protestor claimed the purpose of wearing the garment was to increase the sailor's weight. The Jury could not bring itself to DSQ the boat, but soon after the Games, Case 89 was published, with the intent to ban the wearing of clothing or equipment that had the effect of increasing the sailor's weight when it was not otherwise necessary to wear that garment. ISAF's opinion was that crews could find a way to put a water bottle in the boat and get drinks from it during the race without wearing it. ISAF also realized that windsurfers could not realistically drink water while racing unless wearing it, so they are allowed to, by exception to the rule in their Appendix B.

Case 89

Question: Does rule 43.1(a) permit a competitor to wear or otherwise attach to his person a beverage container while racing?

Answer: No. Except on a windsurfer or a kiteboard, there is no necessity for such a practice, and therefore its primary purpose must be considered to be to increase the competitor’s weight. (Note that rules B4 and F4 modify rule 43.1(a) for windsurfing competition and kiteboard racing.)

So back to your Case 3, if the sailor truthfully wore the extra layer so their weight would be increased, then they broke 43.1(a). But if it was necessary for them to wear the extra layer to stay warm, and the additional weight of the extra garment increased their weight, that to me doesn't break rule 43.1(a). But, if they intentionally wear that extra layer on the outside of their other gear, and they let it get soaked such that it increases their weight when they could have worn it inside a waterproof spray top, etc., then I'd be more inclined to say the sailor wore that extra layer for the purpose of increasing their weight, and broke rule 43.1(a). Otherwise they would have made the effort to keep that layer dry in order to stay warmer.


The Case 3 grey area causes me concern. It seems that two sailors could be wearing the exact same clothing but for different reasons and one would be legal and the other illegal. So ... following a suggestion by Dave, I joined the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club (an organization that is a member of US Sailing) and have asked them to submit a revised set of hypotheticals to US Sailing for an official interpretation. Not only is anyone seeking membership with Scuttlebutt automatically accepted, but membership is free. My kind of sailing club. And when I asked them if they'd be willing to submit the hypotheticals to the US Sailing Appeals Committee on my behalf, they immediately agreed to help. To be continued ...

February 05, 2015

Persistent Shifts for Dummies

By Doug

Roberto in Italy sent us this interesting chart. It shows four boats going upwind - the first 2 sail in a steady breeze while the other 2 sailing in a breeze that slowly shifts to the right:
  • Black-left bangs the left and takes 16m 58s.
  • Black-right bangs the right and takes the same, 16m 58s.
  • Like most of us, red likes the lift but has to come into the mark on a big header, taking 17m 52s. This is 54 seconds more than the blacks because red is on the outside of a persistent shift.
  • Green does something unusual - it sails on a header and then comes into the mark on a big lift, taking just 16m 9s. This is 49 seconds less than the blacks because green is on the inside of a persistent shift.

This is simple geometry - playing the shifts correctly means sailing a shorter distance which takes less time. But guessing when a shift is persistent is tricky - most people will stay on a lift like red and go the wrong way. It takes a lot of courage to recognize the shift is going to be persistent and take an early header like green to go the correct way.

The first time I learned about this was from Frank Bethwaite who was the Australian meteorologists at the 72 Olympics. Frank told me how amazing it was to watch Rodney Pattisson (GBR) who was the only sailor who recognized the long, persistent shifts at Kiel. Pattisson was the defending gold medalist and would start a leg going the wrong way on a header. This got him inside a persistent shift which only paid off at the top of the windward leg. Pattisson again won gold.

So Roberto's diagram is great because it quantifies the amount you can win or lose by not reading a persistent shift correctly. It's also great that most sailors don't sail at places like Kiel that have persistent shifts to worry about.

Actually, that's not true - we have persistent shifts all the time [Dummy alert - the following is simplified to make it a little easier to understand.]

The definition of a persistent shift is when the wind shifts one way and does not come back. In Roberto's diagram, the wind starts in a neutral position and goes right. If a shift cycle has 4 parts (go right, come back, go left, come back) and a leg takes less time to sail than a 1/4 of a shift cycle as shown in the diagram, then whatever the wind is doing is persistent. So it would make sense that the shorter the windward leg, the more likely the the shift will be a persistent shift. So the shorter the leg, the more you want to take an early header to get inside the shift.

So, how often does this happen? (Drumroll). Every windward leg! As we get closer to the windward mark, the remainder of the leg gets shorter and shorter. So, you guessed it, the top part of every leg has a persistent shift.

Some fun with numbers: Roberto's diagram has red losing 54 seconds and green gaining 49 seconds.
  • If the wind completes one complete shift cycle (go right, go back, go left, go back) on a windward leg, then the top 1/4 of the leg has a persistent shift. This means that starting that part of the leg on a lift (red) means losing  54/4 or 13 seconds and sailing on the header (green) that gains 49/4 or 12 seconds - a total of 25 seconds!!
  • If there are two complete shift cycles on the leg, green gains half of that, or 12 seconds on red.
How many times have we had good upwind speed only to round in traffic 12-25 seconds behind the leader who is in clean air?

Perhaps now we know why.
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