Thursday, March 21, 2019

Does it matter?

I have a problem with Lasers tacking.

The problem stems from the fact that I do too much Umpiring. When umpiring, particularly team racing, you have to call when a tack is complete. That is the point at which you judge the speed of the boat. Is it travelling faster than when it entered the track. (Which was when it passed head to wind). Leave the boat heeled after this and you risk getting a penalty for propelling the boat. The act of bringing the boat upright has the effect of the stroke of a paddle and there is no change of direction. This happen quite often in Match Racing where the crew take their time before bringing the boat upright.

At the last two events I have had to watch Lasers complete their tack and then do a massive rock. The turn is so sharp that the boat is practically stationary on completion of the tack, all the rock does is accelerate the boat back to normal speed. Everyone does it, and no one cares.

What they should be doing are vmg tacks. The initial roll is to steer the boat into the tack. As the course is changing you cannot penalise that. The second roll to bring the boat upright should be done before the boat comes down to the new close hauled course. This can propel the boat to windward, hence calling it vmg (velocity made good) The trick is to come down to the new closehauled course once the speed has dropped to what it was on entering the tack.

Done well and smoothly you gain at least a boatlength directly to windward on each tack and shouldn't be yellow flagged. Much better than the ugly ninety degree turn and massive rock I have been watching recently.

But what cares about such technicalities?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Institutional Memory

It has been interesting to observe the way that University Sailing Clubs organise their events. Some you know will be good, others you wonder what is going to happen. Much depends on the "Institutional Memory".

Traditionally, Oxford and Cambridge had this sorted many years ago. Details of previous events were passed on to the next years event, lessons were learnt, and innovations introduced gradually. The result was smooth running well organised events.

Recently, we are noticing a some other University Clubs getting it together, Nottingham was a good example. However, I think that it takes at least five or more years to get the traditions established and everyone familiar with the programme. It also takes a powerful personality to establish it in the first place. (Evidenced in a recent facebook post)

It is also amazing how quickly the memory can be lost. It took a single year at one of the well organised university for things to go wrong. Luckily, not everything was lost but it has taken about three years to get back near to the well oiled machine that existed before.

No doubt there is paperwork behind the sucessful events but at the end of the day it comes down to people, and culture, as evidenced by the examples above.

Friday, February 15, 2019

A lifetime's Experience

I really find it hard to understand how someone could think that taking a jib halyard out of a mast is not going to cause inconvenience to the next user. Putting it neatly under the foredeck and forgetting about it just does not cut it - in my opinion. Not to mention the fact that with a modern mast you have to mouse the thing to get it back in. Does no one care anymore?

Similarly, your crew are sitting out using the toestraps and you tell them it's not something I would do in an institutional boat, I use something solid like the thwart or centreboard capping  - And, lo and behold, as you tell them "often the toe straps knots are undone" - you notice that the toestrap knots are undone.

Increasingly I find shroud pins not taped - no one seems to care. What matter that you could lose a mast.

Noticing and understanding such thing si the result of a lifetime of experience. I uess one shouldn't expect young sailors to realise such things or the possible consequences.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Its Complicated, or is it?

I rarely post to discussions on Racing Rules of Sailing but was tempted by a discussion on  racing or finished racing? Put my piece up and was amazed at the way the discussion continued in a vigorous manner.

The problem arises because a boat finishes "when any part ... crosses the finishing line", but is still racing (and therefore subject to the racing rules) until she "clears the finishing line and marks". She can, therefore, be penalised if she hits the finish mark (or for other infringements) after finishing but before clearing the line and marks.

A most interesting aspect of the discussion was probably the question of whether having finished and cleared the line, subsequent actions could bring her close to a mark and put her back into a racing state. Rules can switch on and off like that.

At least one correspondent mentioned "Overtaking Boat" and didn't seem to consider RRS24, another did.

It was an interesting discussion - I said I liked the argument put forward - but was surprised by the amount of correspondence it generated.

Anyone can register on  Racing Rules of Sailing it is not an official World Sailing site but an interesting forum which, I think, gives an insight ito how the average sailor might think about the rules.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

That was brought on by a request for the UKTRA Coaching Manual from New Zealand.

I had never seen it, the author thought it was well out of date and "the rules have changed a lot since I wrote it in 2003", and besides he didn't have a copy. However, luckily I was able to obtain a copy and we have a happy team racing coach in NZ.

I had a quick look at it, and I thought it was pretty good. What amazed me was that there was only one diagram that needed to be adjusted because of a rule change. Rule 17.2 was deleted in 2009. If you remember it - it should have resulted in Ben Ainsley not winning his medal at Sydney - but no one noticed the breech until a seminar 6 months later!

Perhaps the reason there was so little change was that the manual dealt with the basics rather than rule details. Do the basics mentioned in the manual well,  and success will follow.

The more things change the more they remain the same.

Monday, January 14, 2019

I don't want to play

The RYA Continuing Professional Development Meetings at World Sailing HQ over the weekend were really good. Some really interesting background on Americas Cup Umpiring and Judging at World Sailing events. 

As I say interesting, we may be there in 20yrs time, but not particularly relevant to the average Umpire or Judge, and I don't want to play at that level.

At The Sailing World Cup  in Aarhus the Jury Panel had 35 members and they were rota'd to their tasks by a programming secretary, had quality control assessments of their decisions and the ever present threat of having to appear before the Court of Arbitration for Sport. At least there didn't appear to be any death threats made at this event. This is not a game I want to play.

I enjoy being on the water serving the sailors, if it gets difficult I can probably help tow a few boats in. Lower level events tend not to have the rigidly assigned roles of the big events, and I will know what conditions were like when we have a hearing. Mind you, it would be nice if we could avoid having to move marks at Match Racing events. Once ashore you work with a small group of friendly colleagues, some of whom will be on the Race Committee, and you can talk to the sailors and maybe at the end of a hearing give some advice, which you hope will be useful. 

I am careful with advice. Sometimes it is not wanted and I do try to have a colleague with me when I talk to coaches, or young sailors, but that  is the state of the world today. However, there is never the same threat of action which goes with the really major events.

So I will continue to try and improve, storing all decisions and paperwork in the cloud for future reference seemed a really good idea, but I don't want to go any further up the greasy pole.

Link to conference presentations will go here when they are published.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Code of Conduct

The problem with a Code of Conduct is that it has to be interpreted.

At an NSSA Regatta graffitti was being put on team vans.

How could I think that was not a cause for a discplinary hearing or otherwise punishing the miscreants. Well for one thing it was all done with sticky tape - there was no damage. Another thing was that it was quite funny - one bus was done out as a rocket ship.

Sometimes you just have to let young people be young people. Others disagree.