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20 September 2002, 10:30 am
Your Feedback - Part 3
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The President Speaks - Kinetics Free For All

Feedback continues to be received to the Presidents comments on a Kinetics Free For All. Thoughts continue to vary!
Charles Rachmadi, Singapore

Most of us engage in sport for the challenge & would probably quit the sport if we kept winning without much competition. It is for this reason of competitiveness & challenge that sailors like those in any other sport continue to push the limits of the rules. Holding in volleyball, contact in soccer & basketball ..... the list goes on.

Does it mean that the rules are gotten rid of? Does it mean we stop playing? Definitely not.

The solution lies in improving the rules & policing them. Like in any other sport, rule 42 (& other rules as well) will be pushed to its limits where opportunity arises. More by some & less by others. Let's not get overly flustered by it, but keep on trying to improve the quality of our game.

As for those who do not agree with the majority, you can always hold your own game with an alternate set of rules. If it's more fun, others will naturally join you. Cheers !!!


David Linacre, Australia - ISAF International Judge

I have just read Paul Henderson's comments on Rule 42

He has maintained the rules integrity from the beginning. The rule can be deleted by sailing instructions but I know of no clubs that have done this. The 470 class has made it a class rule, 42 does not apply when wind speeds exceed 10 knots

I would prefer to see Rule 42.2 to read that this rule is only applicable in winds under, say 8 Knots.

I still think of my sailing days when we rushed forward to get on a wave, our only problem was to balance the boat so it didn't nosedive. There was no thought in those days of any one trying to penalize us or constrict our exhilarating sailing, for that is what it was. This is not perfect, but it will make sailing more enjoyable, reduce the high cost of judging (For rule 42) on the water, and rule breaches with winds under say 8 knots will be so obvious that the sailors will protest and sailing will return to enjoyable surfing without Judges being referred to as policemen.

To accuse Sailors of cheating puts a bad light on all yachtsman when the administration can cure the problem by deleting Rule 42 for winds over 8 Knots.


Alex Watters, Canada - Byte National Class Association President

The following is my suggestion, as BYTE N/A class president, to the class as a whole, via my fall Presidents message. I've been down this road before (who hasn't) so in line with Henderson's chatter, this is what I proposed to the class. (feel free to edit)

Ok Byte sailors, time to take things into your (meaning your class) hands and help make a ground breaking decision! How the Byte class should enforce rule 42.

I've written on this subject before, as has almost anybody who can sail dinghies and spell. The rule has been hashed over by everyone from Olympic sailors to 8 year olds in Optis (or at least their parents!!!!)

The judges /umpires / on the water cops certainly have not even come close to consistently dealing with this tricky rule. So what can the Byte do to solve the problem within the class, you ask. Well, first of all, respond to this by actually taking the time to read the rule, then weigh the options mentioned here, or come up with your own suggestion. Whatever, it does no good to simply have an opinion or idea; post it on the web site and snail mail a hard copy to the class association head office. I want to see the class take control of its own destiny. All of you have seen the short comings of the rule as it's now applied, perhaps the Byte class can set the standard for other classes to follow.

The first option is not really an option........status quo.

The second option is to prepare a document that will be given to any judge working a Byte regatta. This document will out line in detail how the class wants the judges to judge, ie. what is acceptable and what is not. Because it is hard to 'judge' the judges my plan call for even greater simplification. In its basic form, I propose zero tolerance in winds from 4 - 10 knots, and in winds 11 knots and up, carte blanche......everything goes, including the judges!! No races will be started in winds under 4 knots, and the race committee has the final say in the wind conditions at the start. They will indicate this via a flag signal. If the wind increases or decreases during the race, and this change crosses over the 10 /11 knot barrier the RC will signal, at a mark of the course, with the appropriate flag, that, from this mark onward the new wind rule applies. This should not be a big hardship on the RC as I'm assuming they are always prepared to make a necessary course change for a wind shift ,so this simply means they need to carry two extra flags.

There are lots of little details to be streamlined but they are just that....details. This idea is not totally original, but nicely packaged the class would be the first to use it, and the first to dictate how they want their class races run.

The third option is left open to your imagination. If you have an idea send it in.

All of this is pointless if you Byte owners don't bother to apply a little effort and make your
opinions known. Perhaps a big enough response will set off a class vote.

At this time the above is just my, your handsome Prez's, own ideas and opinion on dealing with rule 42. Speak up class!!


Alastair McMichael, Royal Perth Yacht Club, Australia - Laser & Swarbrick 9.7m

The concept of doing away with rule limitations on pumping and other forms of artificial propulsion might seem a nice thought to throw into a late night discussion at the bar when you want to be controversial. You don't have to really think through the consequences! But I believe that to seriously propose it would destroy the fundamental enjoyment we get from the sport.

Most sailors are romantics to a degree - even olympic medalists and world champions will usually admit to just enjoying the sensation of a vessel propelled soley by the pressure of wind on sails, the subtleties required to achieve the almost infinitesimal differences between success and mediocrity. This could be swept away at a stroke and I believe the sport might be irreperably harmed. Sure we all explore the limitations of what the rules allow - we're human! But the challenge of the sport is that it combines a range of physical and mental skills which generally balance surprisingly evenly. This could transfer the balance to wildly favour brute physical strength and little else. As my kids would say - "Get real"!


Will Martin, USA

I am bothered that elite-level sailors, coaches and judges are being blamed for the proliferation of Rule 42 violations in our sport, when a clique of ISAF (then IYRU) leaders is the root of the problem.

After the Barcelona Olympics this group was determined to shorten courses and create pile-ups claiming that this format was "made-for-television". They argued that the old Olympic course (triangle-windward-leeward-windward) was created and favored by the top sailors because boats spread out.

The result was Olympic class sailors enduring twenty-minute races with downwind starts and slalom courses in events like the 1993 Miami OCR and SPA. Once no one who actually sailed favored these, this clique insisted, against particularly loud objections in the Star and Finn classes, on the relatively short windward-leeward courses of today.

We now see the result. The classes that sail high downwind angles enjoy the courses. "Follow-the-leader" spinnaker and catamaran reaches may never have been tactically challenging although some angles had to be interesting.

These classes are not dominated by kinetics, but, when you watch the sailors, kinetics is clearly part of the game.
On the other side are the classes that actually sail their best VMG dead downwind. The leader of any group rounds the top mark and the whole fleet blocks his breeze. The boat heads up and to match VMG must become a pterodactyl. This occurs all the way through the fleet.

The result is the uncontrollable cheating that we have seen since about 1994 when the windward-leeward and trapezoid were chosen.

I want to note that ISAF President, Paul Henderson, was definitely not part of the clique to which I refer, and I am glad to see him and others looking for a solution.

I do not think that unlimited kinetics is ever the answer. The "yellow flag" is good if you believe it is only cheating if you get caught. In my opinion we need to look at the course configuration for the boats that sail deep.

Up through 1992 kinetics issues were settle in protests or in the parking lot, and, if we fix the real problem that will likely be the case again.


Shep Barrows, St Thomas, Virgin Islands

I believe that too much attention is being paid to the extreme opinions on this issue. I would be in favor of a middle course, based on the following points:

1. It is natural for any dinghy sailor to move their body a moderate amount while sailing.

2. It is always going to be a judgement call as to whether or not a sailor is using kinetics to enhance speed, unless they sit in the boat as stiff as a board.

3. If unlimited kinetics is allowed, then there will be too much emphasis on athletic strength, and many sailors won't enjoy racing any more. Not many people will want to devote the time to getting in such top shape. The end result will be that there will be a much bigger difference in speed between the top sailors and everyone else, and most people will no longer enjoy those events where you have many sailors of differing abilities sailing against each other.

Now, most sailors enjoy those events where they get to sail against top sailors. This is special to sailing, as there are very few sports where people of different abilities compete with each other so much.

It would be harmful for the sport to lose that.

The Middle Course Solution:

Have the major classes produce videos showing what will be allowed and what won't be allowed. Distribute these widely to coaches and class members, and most importantly to umpires. That way there will be consistency between the umpires' calls on the race course. The umpires should be encouraged to make their penalty calls in the more flagrant cases of infringement. The umpires should be instructed to avoid making a call for penalty turns in cases where doing so will drastically change the results of a race or regatta.

Case in point: As things stand now, it is not difficult for an umpire to call a rule 42 violation with most Laser sailors at any given time. If an umpire calls a penalty on a sailor right after a start, they pretty much ruin that race for that sailor, because doing turns at that time will immediately put them at the back of the fleet. It isn't fair for umpires to do that when they could probably call most of the sailors for rule a 42 violations right at that moment. At the start of a race is when all the sailors a trying hard to get any edge they can, and it is when most of them are most likely to be violating the rule.

Second case in point: Two sailors are close together at the front of the fleet, driving towards the finish line, and one of them gets called for a rule 42 violation and loses a place to the other sailor, and there was only a very slight difference in their level of kinetics. This really doesn't make for a fair regatta, and isn't that the whole point of having the umpires?

I think that many of the classes have developed their own unwritten conventions as to what can be allowed and what can't. For instance, in Optimists many European coaches were teaching their kids that it's OK to rock forward and back with your upper body as you beat to windward, but at the same it's not O.K. to slide your seat along the rail forward and back.

This is a good compromise in the application of Rule 42, because you are allowing for some use of the weight to enhance speed but limiting it to a level where there isn't an exorbitant amount of physical exertion. If coaches in other parts of the world were educated to the same convention then there wouldn't be any problem. The problem develops if only the Europeans really understand this fine point and teach it. Class approved videos would solve this problem.

It will be a little more work to develop the system where this middle course can be applied to Rule 42 enforcement, but it is definitely not too complicated, and I think the two extreme solutions are both very
undesirable.


Tim Crook

I for one would not like to see the end of Rule 42 and would prefer to see tougher policing at sailing events of all levels.

For me the boat should move by the action of the wind in the sails and not by other means of enforced propulsion!


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