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Changes to Sail Rules

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Alastair Pugh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alastair Pugh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Changes to Sail Rules
    Posted: 14 Aug 2011 at 5:46pm
So there is now some progress on changing the sail specs.  Unfortunately, because I did not join the association until Feb 2011 I have missed the discussions and raisons d'être that have led to the proposed (already accepted?) changes - I cannot seem to find the AGM minutes anywhere on the site to know the status.

If one of the drivers was to increase the racing fleet (presumably in the Solent area), I am not entirely sure how forcing all boats to buy new, or modify existing, sails within a 2/3 year period does this.  My existing Dacron No1 is getting tired after 5 years but will continue as the heavy weather choice for some time - had I bought it last year, I would not be amused by the rule change.  However, I am unlikely to ever race in the Solent under class rules.  I, like many others, am more likely to compete under CYCA, PY (where the CO32 is a Secondary Yardstick), FYCA and a variety of other handicap systems, all of which may need be adjusted because of this change.  What are the committee's plans to deal with this?  What are the committee doing to encourage racing participation outwith the Solent?

OD racing fleets will always have some boats with a bigger budget than others and there will always be disillusion amongst the not-so-rich who watch the new sail brigade sail away.   One solution is to limit the period between purchasing new sails - several OD classes do this - to, say, no more often than every 3 years. If sail cost is indeed a contributor to non-participation has this been considered?

The limitation to woven and/or laminated polyester/Dacron only seems almost Luddite given the rate of change of material technology.  Was there a technical paper generated that justified this decision - if so where can I find it?

And finally, if only ~10 out of the roughly 600 members of the Association are actually interested in OD Class racing - as at Cowes Week this year - is it possible something other than fiddling with the sail specs is needed to encourage participation?  Have you considered e.g. rolling handicaps to even out the discrepancies between boats (and crews) which may encourage the at-the-present no-hopers to join in and achieve success while also improving?

Cheers
Alastair


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George Isted View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote George Isted Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2011 at 11:38am

Hello Alastair,

Always good to hear from a new member, I hope you are enjoying your Contessa and have been in contact with the growing group of Contessa owners that cruise and race Scotland.

 

The discussion over of sail materials for the racing fleet have been going on for a great many years (probably 15-20 years ago) and it is fair to say that sail technology has moved on a very long way from the early days.  Over the last few years there has been a steady decline in the number of boats racing, there used to be an East-coast fleet that died off and the Solent fleet has been shrinking in size so rather than do nothing the class association is trying a number of changes, of which this sail plan change is only one, in order to re-invigorate the racing scene and make it easier for cruisers to race if they wish at a lower cost of entry (and be competitive) and also make it easier for the boats that race to go from race-trim to cruising trim as required.

 

To answer your questions, there has been a lot of investigation into what the association members want and what would make it easier for owners of Contessas to both cruise while staying “in-class” and race without having a great deal of expense to buy a full suit of sails.   This investigation has been carried out by many members of the committee both at racing and cruising events and a more formal questionnaire survey that I organised last year.  The results of these investigations show that there is an appetite from the majority of owners to both change the format of the racing that is offered and a change to the sail plan to make it easier to race. 

 

I agree with you that it is not ideal to change the sail plan if you have just bought new sails (our class captain is in this very position) but a line has to be drawn in the sand somewhere if a change is to be made.  The current plan is to switch off the old sail plan at the end of 2012 but due to delays in getting the new sail plan published this year the committee may discuss an extension of this.   That said I know of a number of boats that have either bought into the new sail plan or are about to so the signs are positive that this has been well received.

 

I think it is fair to say that with the new sail plan, the racing rules are now much closer to the specification of the majority of Contessas on the water.  Both cruisers and racers are now able to make the most of the sail technology that suits them.   If owners wish and go for a laminate constriction (see rules for restrictions) they can or they can still use a traditional woven Dacron.  A compromise for boats that mainly cruise but want to dip their toe in the racing may wish to use some of the cross-over cloths that are still woven but make use of some higher modulus fibres within the weave to get a sail that is still in class but will not stretch like a Dacron only sail, I know at least one Contessa that has done this.

 

I hope this answers some of your questions.

George Isted
Contessa 32 "Concerto"
Co32 Class Captain and Measurer.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alastair Pugh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2011 at 5:34pm
Originally posted by George Isted

I hope this answers some of your questions.


Well, it tells me the subject has been running for half the lifespan of the CO32.  Your new rule change affects all the "over 700" boats built but seems parochially aimed at the very small number of boats that race in the Solent area.  I have difficulty in reconciling the change in sail plan as a benefit to the vast majority of CO32 owners who are unlikely to join in Solent racing but who have sails that presently conform to the class specification and, if they race, do so under club handicaps that have been set by years of CO32 results throughout the world using the existing sailplan.  Your rule may improve the lot of the few Solent racers but will alienate the others who will face the choice of reducing their competitiveness by  reducing sail area (the present PY handicap is extremely hard to sail to) or of being non-class compliant.  I am surprised that anyone has "bought in" - if that means procured - to the new sail plan without the formal release and ratification of the new wording.

It may well be that I am but a single voice in the wilderness but I hope that if there are any others who share my concerns they make themselves known before the class degenerates into a small Solent One Design fleet and a world-wide host of Contessa 32 non-conformists. As a piece of tongue-in-cheek impertinence may I quote the first two of the Association's Objects -
  1. To promote Contessa 32 Class racing, rallying, cruising and social activities throughout the UK and abroad in such manner as encourages the active participation of existing Contessa 32 owners and the attraction of new persons into the Class and the preservation of the value of Contessa 32 yachts.
  2. To maintain the restricted design integrity of the Contessa 32 Class yacht with a view to ensuring the long term continuity of level racing in the Class.
Cheers
Alastair

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christophe View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote christophe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 2011 at 6:16pm
Originally posted by Alastair Pugh

Originally posted by George Isted

I hope this answers some of your questions.


  Your rule may improve the lot of the few Solent racers but will alienate the others who will face the choice of reducing their competitiveness by  reducing sail area (the present PY handicap is extremely hard to sail to) or of being non-class compliant. 
This is not true, if you want to keep on racing with your nr 1 in dacron under your local handicapsystem , this isn't a problem because you are not OD racing.  Same situation for us here in Benelux, we race under ORC, IRC and CR (local handicap system) with our dacron nr 1 if necassary if we come over to the Solent we'll race our dacron n2.
If you'are honest you'll admit that this new rule will allow more cruisers to race with the OD fleet, because there is not 1 cruising boat with a nr 1 on his roller, they all carry nr 2 or 3.
If you race under IRC, the nr 2 is more favourable than the nr 1 for the rating..so there's another advantage.
Furthermore you are right regarding the participants, me and my crew we do not understand that there are not more contessa's racing in the OD fleet.  The level of racing and the level of  the top 5 boats is really high.  You must have a look at the results from Cowes week, the top 3 boats in our fleet are sometimes faster than the top 3 boats in the Sigma 33 class.  Same at the Round the Island, if you calculate the results from our class to IRC than you have al least 12 co 32's in the top 100.
For me it's always a pleasure to come over the Solent and learn from these experienced skippers and crews.
And yes, nationals in 2013 in Weymouth would be great..we'll try to be there!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote George Isted Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2011 at 10:16am

Hello Alistair,

Thanks for your response, it is always healthy for the actions of the association to be challenged and monitored to ensure the comittee are following the association’s objectives and the will of the majority of owners.

 

Yes the subject of sailcloth has been long discussed and it is fair to say that in the past the focus has just been on the OD racing fleet and changing the sail material only, I suspect this is the reason that nothing has been agreed in the past.  These changes have been aimed to improve the situation for all Co32 owners and as such appears to have the support of the majority of owners and was therefore agreed at the last AGM.

 

Christophe has quite rightly made the point that if racing in a mixed fleet under handicap then the new rules should not make any difference to you unless you want them too as you can continue to use the standard multiple headsails and will race under the standard handicap.   Alternatively, you could sail with the new sail plan that will give you an improved rating that should make you more competitive in most wind conditions.  For example, the standard 2011 IRC rating for a Co32 is 0.870, however my boat (Concerto) has a IRC rating of 0.857  as I have a 29sq m laminate headsail and make use of the single furling-headsail allowance.  In short, the new sail plan is designed to optimise the rating for racing a Contessa in a mixed handicap fleet and make it easier for cruising Contessas to purchase a sail that will be competitive if they want to try racing or, like me, race and cruise in equal measure.

 

As the class measurer I have a fair amount of contact with the commonly used sail-makers and also receive and keep a record of sail measurement certificates.  I can assure you that in 2011 Contessa owners have been purchasing new sails that fit the new rule and now it is published formally (subject to ratification) I expect to see the number of boats doing this to increase. 

 

Best wishes.

George Isted
Contessa 32 "Concerto"
Co32 Class Captain and Measurer.
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Alastair Pugh View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alastair Pugh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2011 at 1:54pm
George

Thank you for your reply.  One of the points I am trying to make is that club handicap systems, based e.g. on PY, apply a standard handicap generated from experience and results gleaned from years of CO32 racing.  The change leads me to assume that, once the change is brought to the attention of the handicap authorities, individual boat handicap measurement submissions are going to be necessary, as with IRC, to accommodate different sail plans (but probably not materials) and the simple label of "Contessa 32" will no longer be sufficient.  This is going to affect a lot of occasional racers and may be a discouragement to making the effort.  Status quo?  - how long will the RYA list the present (secondary standard) handicap?

One assumption you seem to be making is that a "cruising" boat will make the considerable outlay for a new sail "if they want to try racing".  I find that difficult to accept.  Surely to "try" they will use what they have and I suspect that most will have the full set as in the present rules, even if the No 1 is old and kept in the garage.  However, if the idea is that they will have measured and use their existing cruising sail, which may fit inside the 32sqm limit, I suspect their competitiveness and enthusiasm engendered will be no better than with an old No 1 under the present rule.  Cristophe's contention that "there is not 1 cruising boat with a nr 1 on his roller" is wrong - I, and at least one other boat to my knowledge, cruise with our No 1s, complete with UV strip.  So far this year I have covered over 1800nm with a No 1 fitted and have not reduced to the No2 or 3 though I have on occasion used the storm jib on its own forestay (it does pain me, though, how much has been under engine 'cos of lack of wind).

Democracy is indeed better than a lot of other forms of government and, if as you imply, over 350 owners approve of the new change then so be it.  On the other hand, if the decision has been taken by a small coterie of geographically able, and not already booked to a pre-calendared "regional" event, members who attended the AGM, then I question the wisdom.  The reduction in numbers racing is endemic in our sport and many remedies have been tried by many clubs to reverse the trend.  I hope, but doubt, that this headsail and material change will help achieve your objectives.  One benefit may be that owners who wish to be competitive in both class and IRC racing can reduce their sail costs but that hardly seems compatible with "ensuring the long term continuity of level racing in the Class".

My membership of the Association is very short and my presumptions that the Contessa 32 specifications were cast in tablets of stone and not subject to the vagaries of fashion and rating rules were clearly misplaced. 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alastair Pugh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Aug 2011 at 9:26pm
I have been advised of another 2 CO32s that cruise with No1s on furling gear- any more?

Alastair
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Post Options Post Options   Quote christophe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2011 at 7:19am
@Alastair: what kind of furler do you use? Do you furl your sail or do you use it as a tuf luff system? Here in Benelux there is not much racing with the CO 32.  Most of the cruisers (around 60 in our association) use a sailarea from 26 till 30 sqm.

Edited by christophe - 19 Aug 2011 at 7:22am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alastair Pugh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2011 at 10:19am
Cristophe

My boat came with a Profurl single groove foil - not the easiest to load the sail into single-handed and I suspect the large diameter of the foil is not doing the aerodynamics any favours.  I would much prefer a new Harken twin groove furler but there are a few things on the wish list before that. 

I am one of the few C032s that race in Scotland though we did have 4 boats on the Round Mull race and every 2nd year Circe and Marisca renew their rivalry at West Highland Week - it means a trip of about 90 miles and a canal for them and 150 miles for us.

I'd be interested in your take on why there is not much racing in the Benelux.  With 60 boats on a relatively short (compared with Scotland) coastline it seems to me that there should be opportunities.   For the boats here, for example last year there were at least 8 C032s on the Forth of which 2 occasionally raced, though not against each other, the reasons seem to range from "too old" through "no crew" to "never raced".  Entry into club racing couldn't be much easier - just fill in a form with "C032", no. of propeller blades, and you have a handicap; check your insurance and that's it! If that's too difficult then having to fill in sail measurements will make it a lot worse ............... and that brings me back to where I started.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Alastair Pugh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Aug 2011 at 1:14pm
I wish to recant my misinformed and ultimately pointless comments on the new rule.  In a moment of inquisitive contemplation I made the effort to look at what the new size rule for genoas actually means and my conclusion is - diddly-squat! 

I don't think I've got the arithmetic wrong, but please check it yourselves and point out my errors:
  • Present No1 can vary from 29.28-33.56m**2  (roller furling min luff of 35ft)
  • Present No2 can vary from 26.84-30.19m**2
  • New No1 rule has a max of 32m**2
Why on earth does the committee think that such a minimal change in the sail size is going to make an iota of difference to encouraging non-racers to join in?   Most No1s, almost certainly if roller-furling, may already comply with the new rule and any No2 is going to be smaller than the new max area by more area than any existing No1 is bigger than the new size.  I must apologise for not realising the deckchair-shuffling-on-the-Titanic nature of this change before and wasting my and your time. 

If the change is mainly to allow laminate sail material then why did the AGM accept the polyester only amendment? The IRC gave up on controlling sail materials for very good reasons. 

However, if the change is to permit reducing the sail wardrobe when roller furling is used, why bother with the rest?  I can actually see the point in this and it would remove a restriction on entering class racing.
 
Alastair
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