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Not quite what the brochure promises for Key West but perfect sailing conditions for a modern, light one-design. The J/70 was easily the largest class at this year’s regatta; but while this is ‘the’ one-design success of the moment, that success has brought with it new pressures. Following an incident involving an illegal rudder in 2014, there is fresh talk of carbon appearing where it should not (this is also a popular subject for speculation in the Melges 32s); and the escalating wage bill for pro crew is doing very little to encourage another wave of Corinthian teams

system. This one should have been put on the market a long time ago; possibly it is best that both ORC and IRC buy some of the derelict plot and redevelop it in friendly competition. Sounds rude, and apologies to all who worked so hard on the CSA effort, but the time has come to let go and look back with pride for being a big part of establishing the Caribbean as a wonderful racing location. One rule less, a few more to go in rating rule Monopoly. It is all about building streets and staying out of jail. I suggest both major players sit down and agree on a racer/sports/fast boat street? Work together on that one and maybe one day you will no longer remember why you made the sailor’s life so difficult. We have to understand the limits of the rating game. Without researching the exact numbers, let’s say a large player hands out 10,000 certificates (which is a lot!) at an average of 100 euros each. This produces a budget of 1million to pay the rent, man the offices, buy equipment, travel, promote, hold seminars, and so on. In the light of that, maybe 100 euros has bought the boat owner rather a lot, but for sure not the guarantee that the competition he is in is fair, based on a high level of ongoing research, proper control of data input and proper checks during important events. Quite a lot of certification is ‘garbage in garbage out’ and, for sure, we like to avoid the thought that it is possible to cheat – after all, this is a gentleman’s sport.

We would prefer to view the rules as not being clear or simply too complicated, as that takes away intent. The ball, however, is not solely with the rating offices, the events also have to offer services and controls. Some do, but rarely are there enough staff to make thorough checks. And rarely are these staff knowledgeable enough about what they have to check and the necessary protocols. Is this a problem? Well, it is if on the one hand one worries, complains and argues over 0.001pt of rating, while on the other hand accepting that ratings are based on owner input, poor measurement practices, poor measurement conditions, composed data, bad filing and hardly any checking even when there is cause to question the data produced.

Battling for market share in the rating market is one of the reasons that quality of product suffers. Relatively low-cost certification, avoiding unsettling clients by checks and certainly penalties; all very understandable but in the long run a low-quality product benefits nobody. And it is a reason why people switch to other products like one-designs.

Again, without having done proper research, but over recent years I have seen more boat and equipment controls in the western Mediterranean, like at the Copa del Rey where, for sure, the leading boats are checked regularly. Cynics might say this is a reaction to a greater degree of cheating in this region, and indeed there was such a dark period decades ago. But that was – to be honest – also the case in the USA and northern Europe. My feeling is that at the Copa del Rey equipment checks have somehow survived time and budget cuts, one of the reasons it is still a great event. I saw the opposite at Key West, where the IRC certificates of participants were not even stored at the regatta office… the TCCs were just downloaded as required from US Sailing files. And if they had been available, who would have looked at them? Certainly not an event measurer as there was no such person. Whether this is standard practice in the US I do not know. I do know that sport without controls is no more than exercise.

This year Key West Race Week and Storm Trysail of course had other priorities than checking rating certificates and boats, but in general the yacht racing product requires good-quality equipment measurement and good-quality checking of data. With no police don’t bother about speed limits, we will all speed. We even do so with police, just less often and less extreme.





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Wichard Innovation

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